Friday, March 03, 2006

This is getting quite close to being finished, perhaps just one more day. Tom tells me each time I work on it "It looks great, what more do you want to do?" - and I'm practically weeping with frustration because, as T.S.Eliot said, "That's not what I meant at all" The problem, I realize now, is that I'm trying to paint not what is seen but what is unseen. I am copying a very old sketch, from my student days in fact, the sketch seems so simple but when I began to copy it I was overwhelmed by the feeling it gave me. I saw big rhythms of energy sweeping through the painting pulling together rocks, water, trees and depositing all in the unknowable, unfathomable distance. The first stages of the painting were almost completely abstract, reflecting my desire to put this perception to canvas. The results were unsatisfying, incomprehensible; I made the inevitable turn towards representation, back to my endless attempt to wrap abstraction in a semi-transparent veil of realism, to offer the viewer two contrasting flavors in one visual bite.

This is the most recent version of this piece, which is still unfinished. The subject is so complicated; every time I pick it up I find more in it: another rhythm to explore, a deeper sense of metaphor to express. I have a lot of ambition for this painting. Perhaps because the metaphor is so complex, I am conscious of needing every level of the painting to be active: from the deep, abstract heart of the design to the sparkling engaging surface.

I haven't worked on it since early February, but I'll pick it up again soon.

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