Boy is this a strange piece of writing.
I've been home from the wetlands for about 2 weeks. Painting apples and waiting to go back in May. Painting apples has kept me from thinking about the wetlands, and I'm happy about that. What I want more than anything right now is to NOT think about painting. But because NOT THINKING about painting is impossible--NOT CONSIDERING what will be done, you need to have something to occupy your mind. Idleness is the plaything.
But there are things to consider sometimes, to reflect on. Healthy things.
Not wanting to make a "good painting" was the greatest change that the Xi Hu experience brought about. I didn't realize until after I returned home how important it is to not want to make good paintings . I didn't make it that far. Almost but not quite. I only got as far as not wanting to make pictures. This was two weeks into the series and really hit home with this painting:
I realized with this painting that I was making sort of "post cards". Pictures of scenes that I adored. But was it really this painting that changed my way of thinking about what I was doing? Nope. It was THIS artist that really helped me realize that something was missing:
I had never heard of Lucian Grigorescu or any of the Romanian Balchik School artists, but it was his work that showed me what I was doing wrong--ultimately why I wasn't feeling giddy after painting. And so I went out and began to make paintings that would make me feel giddy, not complicatedly (rather than "simply") scenes. And once I made the change I iimmediately understood everything beautiful and meaningful that I had ever done. I realized that I had replaced painting with repetition, and a single goal: depiction.
When I realized that I wasn't making paintings, but pictures, I could do what I needed to do to change this fact. The first painting was this one:
It pales in comparison to anything that Grigorescu or his peers did, but it was a start. And if I can continue to learn to be as free as they were--learn to maintain that intensity while relaxing and letting the painting go only to where it wants to go, even if that means not finishing the work...or in a more fair way, letting it say when it's finished--then things will be where I have wanted them to be for a very long time.
And now a tribute to the Balchik School artists. Hover over each image to see artist's name, or click to see enlarged images.
God, they're beautiful.