Tuesday, September 1, 2015

autopilot

The unusual noise came from my van's muffler.  The noise meant an opportunity to visit the muffler shop I pass every day.  Visiting a muffler shop is not as bad as visiting the dentist, so Yeah.  But the anticipation is so completely grey and unspectacular, which is why I was surprised to find myself enjoying it.  I only wished the work would have required more time.  Finished already, are you sure?


By the way, where I live could be described as one of those towns that you pass through and wonder who'd choose to live there.  Forgettable.  And since I excel at forgetting, it often feels like home sweet home.  No, I often do not paint my immediate Texas surroundings.  I opt instead for fleeting glimpses along migratory journeys thru a perpetual "elsewhere".  I live here and separate my life and work.  Don't ask me any more.


When I stepped into the muffler office to pay I took notice of two things: Gilligan's Island on the television and prominently displayed photos of family athletes.  I chose to ask the clerk about the photos.  She described with excitement the prospects for her son's upcoming senior year baseball team.  A new coach.  How her son has played since age 4.  Where he'll attend college.  His brothers and sisters and their interests as well.  And maybe more.


This is the type of experience where externally I am occupied, as if I were buckled into a seat on a plane along for the ride with a programmed destination.  In this case, my muffler is being repaired and I must sit here and wait.  Because the "what am I supposed to do right now" is hushed, I can more simply enjoy being.


As I drove my van out of the muffler shop, the repairman said, "thank you, good man".  It was the single most enjoyable muffler repair I'd ever had.  And I look forward to my next visit.  Note: this muffler shop probably exists in your town too.  If not, I recommend doing multiple laundry loads at a laundromat or waiting in a long checkout line at your grocer.

This entry is in honor of Oliver Sacks and Wayne Dyer.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Are you sure you want to quit?

Aboard a transatlantic return flight I peer between the seats at a fellow passenger's computer screen.  It asks, are you sure you want to quit?  Take it out of context and this becomes a question that I carry with me every year to Hungary.  


It is a place where I decided years ago to be a painter.  Not to become a painter, but to explore being who I already am, which is to say someone who walks out to the field and orchard behind the house, who can sense an abundance that speaks of the closeness to nature, what and all we should ever want.  It is a tree that blends into the earth.


If I didn't paint I would farm like my neighbors.  They live and mix with the land and animals in a way that is dynamic and that breaks thru the surface.  They dig into nature and cook from it.  My son and daughter eat wild strawberries (szamoca) along their path.  The windows to the house are closed during the day and open wide at night.


Quit what?  Anything that does not make me free, anybody that is too small.  Pursuing what does not matter.  Enough, let this conversation be over for now.


Monday, June 29, 2015

system 2

Words fade as I find new language in thinning and polymerizing.  What I'd always avoided: the drawn out drying times of oil painting, slowness and calculation, system 2 thinking.  This is creeping into my work, perhaps into my career as well.  Last week I said no to a show invitation, mostly for system 2 reasons.  Not necessarily delayed gratification, but oil must dry and one must wait.



Currently at the Davis Gallery summer show I have four new oil paintings.  These will be on view thru August 8th.  Bill Davis' summer group exhibitions are often his best shows of the year for seeing all Davis artists' works on display in one of Austin's best spaces. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

bioluminescence

Weeks of rain have attracted fireflies to my Texas backyard, the court for much of my inspiration.  Known in other languages as Saint John's bugs, these beings that touch instantly the viscera of my northern childhood are for me that simple mystery that could justify perhaps the entire internet.  Now, I've waited nearly my whole life to google the science of their glow.  Here it goes.  (Wow, maybe next month I'll write about rainbows.)


Scrolling down the sludge of wikipedia something jumps out at me:
 "It has been speculated that Baroque painter Caravaggio may have prepared his canvases with a powder of dried fireflies to create a photosensitive surface on which he projected the image to be painted."  


I'm not classically trained (who is anymore?) but I find this aspect of oil painting, not just Caravaggio's, but this "ground preparation" to be suggestive or metaphoric.  Same goes for composting in the garden, by the way, where the dirt, the iron and rust, the slop serves to nourish the bloom.  Caravaggio and the Baroque community to which he belonged demanded drama.  And he needed an infusion.


Trade secrets are like lightning bugs.  Try rabbit skin glue.  Fade.  Try epoxy.  Fade.  Smoke.  Mirrors.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

frank

My grandfather was born in 1890 in Chennai, India (then Madras).  
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the date of his birth, that he was born as far back as the 1800's while still only being my grandfather.  That he was born and raised in such a mysterious place as India fascinates me like the stars, but more than the stars do. 


Phantom India is a documentary from the late 60's by Louis Malle.  It is the stranger exposed for the first time to the older than old systems of a strange land.  If I run into you soon I'll try to talk about anything else.

Monday, April 13, 2015

more than a hundred

My nearest ocean is the gulf shore, a beach as salty and sandy as any.  We run to this edge.  We dive into it and dry off.  It is the boundary that outlines our continent that you can feel with your toes.     


Then we went to the mountains that pull you down on skis.  Automotive pleasure, mastering speedy movement without effort.  No walking, no time for slow thinking.


Abundance to my daughter means more than a hundred.  Seashells, snowflakes, stars, as well as cheerios.  I too am awed by scale, naturally the ocean and the rockies, but also by the marriott and fog.


I make more than a hundred decisions with small brushes to create an illusion of atmosphere and grandeur.  I have updated my website by placing selected pieces, both old and new, in a new order to see it in a new light.  Look around.



Thursday, March 12, 2015

no map

Paint is paint.  Oil, watercolor, ink, all the same when applied, push with pressure against sober reality.  Appropriateness, characterized by buildings and order, surrounds us like a skin.  And like any skin it is altered by ongoing turbulence from within and without. 


The environment becomes an arena.  Though I capture yay-big aspects of it with my camera, the process of painting is larger (for many of us, not just me) and functions like a dark room.  Painting is a "developing", but in a sense I find truer to the word.


My children draw everyday.  The subjects, lions and unicorns and maybe a few other four-legged creatures, are crafted over and over and over.  I adore these efforts.  I occasionally suggest they draw more lightly and loosely, but they press hard convinced their erasers will help.  The process wears and in the end cannot be hidden.  This struggle stains the paper and takes on a beauty all its own.


This repetition is familiar.  For me it is both the subject and the process, the endless city built only to be explored with the joy of no map.