I got a bouquet of flowers and discovered that I have forgotten how to draw real flowers after so many occasions of drawing their fake counterparts.  Interesting thing is that the flowers are not wilting nor are they in any way uncooperative.  Therefore I surmise that I have not really forgotten how to draw them.  Instead I have forgotten something more fundamental.

It’s a wonderful befuddlement.  Sometimes after all these years, I really surprise myself.  It’s difficult to come at old experiences in a new way. But here I am turned ingenue of flowers just like that!  Poof!  Voila!

After some desultory efforts, among which is the version posted here (the above is a detail), I re-considered that when I don’t know how to do something I can nonetheless  immediately begin taking it apart.  I know how to learn now. Do some little sketch — on a napkin, with whatever pen happens to be lying about. Draw it very small.  Or scribble away on a regular sized sheet and just put down whatever linear-visual thoughts pop  into my head.  Visual wondering has its own free association.  Had Freud owned a paint brush, he’d have known this.

I also decided that just having the flowers there is one way of beginning to walk a path back into transient subject matter.  I can look at it, think about it, remember it, pout when they begin to fade (which gives one a healthy sense of urgency).  I guess I re-discovered that all the solutions don’t have to announce themselves upon the first decision to begin a new thing.  I can wade into this circumstance.

I don’t know how any other artists out there think about their art.  But the hesitancy of drawing is not something I want to shy away from.  To look at the thing, not knowing what to do, brings me back to a beginning that I celebrate.  I feel like I am confronting something wonderful for the first time — again!  To throw down lines where I think they belong and correct them soon after, leaving the old lines there, records thoughts as they make passage through my brain.  It is as though one recreates the reality of the flowers in one’s mind, through one’s hand, over the course of time spent thinking and having trial of this and that.

I want to have this newness.  Sometimes you even get a good picture from it.  But even the newness all stripped bare of success has its marvel.  And that’s the place I’m at right now, feeling marvel-ous.

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6 thoughts on “Not knowing

  1. Wow, those are inspiring words – it’s hard to go wrong with that attitude, and I will keep them in mind when I struggle to throw words on a page. I love the photo, because I can now see how large your paintings are and they are wonderful. What a pretty room you have there. Pop over to Selmas – she has highlighted your blog post on her front page under ‘my favourite posts on the web this week 🙂 http://selmainthecity.wordpress.com/ – she got here before me – haha.

  2. VERY beautiful! I’ve been following Carol Heft’s FB posts, and saw a comment from you on there – saw your self-portrait and thought I’d like to see your work – so glad I found you! I’m going to look at more… (I live in Centreville, VA)

  3. Thank you for the heads-up, Gabe. I had no idea my little bloggie was on Selma’s page. That’s a very nifty surprise. The corner of the room does look cheery, and the rest of the studio is neat as well. Though — I must admit that one of the glories of photography is that no one sees what is just outside the frame!! — in regard to those of us whose duster gets neglected a bit …. ha, ha!

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