Last night I had a dream. I was riding a motorcycle with my wife. It was a Ducati 400 similar to the one that Tom Cruise rides in Day and Knight. I sat through this movie a couple nights ago. He does this thing where Cameron Diaz is sitting behind him and he flips her around so that she is sitting in front of him, facing him...while riding full speed through the narrow streets of Barcelona or somewhere. Implossible but that was the point of the movie. My dream was more implosible. I moved my wife from back to front but she wasn't facing me in the end; she too was facing forward. But to top Tom Cruise, I had a small calf sitting behind me. And I had brought the calf, a milk cow, all the way from the Northeast of China without it falling off.
Things have not been easy lately, but I suspect this dream is a turn for me. It is clearly symbolic. The motorcycle is symbolic of a love for life. My wife is my partner, taking charge like she hasn't done in a long time, and the little cow is a symbol of getting back to the good life...doing things naturally, finding reward in the kind of lifestyle you find only in the pages of magazines like Mother Earth News.
In the past week, my life has changed. I have gone from living in misery, the misery that we all feel, that we run from, that we avoid, that we cover over, usually...to something much better. I don't cover mine over, incidentally. I enjoy misery. I enjoy it because it makes me feel that I am not hiding from the reality of what this life is. I welcome misery because I know that it is what we all feel and I want to be normal. Nevertheless, I have escaped it for what I believe will be a short spell...of course it will be. I haven't died yet. And it all came from three simple paintings.
Feeling too lazy to look it up, I can only say that someone once said, "If you want to paint a rose, you must forget all the roses you ever painted." I think it was Pissaro who said this. What I have been dealing with is how to forget all the paintings I ever painted. The paintings that nag at you, the paintings that call out to you, "do more like me". It isn't something you are neccesarily aware of...these voices, these urges, these desires to repeat good things...it is entirely natural, it is subconscious. It is only when you realize how strong they HAVE BEEN, that is only in hindsight, do you know how much these paintings from the past have haunted you, refusing to let you get on with your life and just create freely again. Painting is the act of becoming intimate with your subject. For me, becoming intimate with leaves and branches and hillsides. Becoming intimate means knowing something truly, seeing it for what it holds, seeing it for it's truth, for the beauty of its truth. Another movie...movies are the new art after all aren't they...and this one I could not get through. Shallow Hal, a film about a guy who is only interested in the outer appearance of women...Jack Black? Yes. Another implossible film, Black's character suddenly sees all women who have beauty on the inside as being physically beautiful on the outside. So when he meets an overweight woman of wonderful character, inner strengths, great personality he literally sees her as what my generation would have called a "babe". But this is how, in an innocent world, we are...when we meet someone who touches us inwardly, who attracts us with her inward beauty, we see her (or him) as beautiful. Quoting another artist: "A true artist sees beauty in nature because by looking fearlessly he finds and inward truth within himself." This is not quoted correctly. I think the complete quote is on my "about the artist page".Previously painted works, especially the ones that we are proud of, that we are in love with, that we feel were successful, become more powerful than nature itself. Ah, icons! That is what they are...and the worship of icons, as we know is forbidden! Or should be. For icons take us away from the truth, where true innocence, true joy is, in fact.For myself, moving forward meant changing mediums (from oil to watercolor) in order to get close again to my subject. I couldn't repeat past paintings if I was no longer working with the tools that I made them with, now could I! Gone from my mind were the Korean paintings and that marvelous landscape, the Yunnan paintings with those marvelous trees, the Kangba paintings with those skies! Getting close to a new subject--a subject that I have always had affection for but unable to find intimacy with was now possible. As soon as I did this, I was able to begin to see again, to see the beauty of all things around me. More importantly, as someone who must paint, I realized the beauty there, the things that need to be experienced and exactly how to experience them. Now all there is to do is to continue and to let things unfold as naturally as nature would have it.