“Face it” was what he often said. It was one of his expressions, his way of making something emphatic.
Now with cleaning house, with making this wonderful transformation, this transformation that will lead to yet other new and even more wonderful transformations, I am facing things. I take a last glance over a certain landscape that was the past. I will always remember. But life is utterly new now. And our life is so beautiful and so bright.
I feel a great surge of optimism. It is like a wave at the beach that almost topples you while you stand, that makes you turn and smile and laugh in the spray, catching the gaze of your companions. It’s like brilliant sunlight blanketing a field. It’s like every lovely expansive day that you’ve ever lived.
I have been thinking about this picture for months and months. I got a new canvas — a big, brand new, white canvas. I want so much to begin.
Always a balancing act to begin new things, finish old things, keep the everyday chores humming, to adjust my schedule to the calendar I keep with others. But a bit here and a bit there, and incrementally one makes progress.
I am not sure exactly when I’ll start work on the new picture — and it’s the same motif as featured in the post “almost a year ago.” But in this drawing — in this version — the flowers are smaller relative to everything else. And this is the version I’ll do first. I might also paint that other version (who can tell). Somehow, though, this is the one with the magic in it for the present.
I have decided how I’ll start, too. I am going to draw the composition using blue paint, drawing it in lines, just as above I drew the motif using a pen.
It’ll start all blue and white. Then I’ll see where it goes from there.
It’s dark and gloomy outdoors.
It’s partly cloudy indoors. I have these marvelous plans, but I must be patient about realizing them. The weather itself makes one lethargic. A dog is whining again — not the big dog. Now it’s the little dog. The big dog is asleep.
I could fall asleep. It is great sleeping weather. It’s a chore staying awake. It’s one of those grey wet days when Nature persuades you — nearly — that this is what eternity looks like. I could swear that time has slowed down. Physicists should study this phenomenon to learn whether time creeps by more slowly on dismal, damp, grey days.
Well, they would if they could, I guess. But any physicist brought into this situation would feel the effects himself. Sleeping physicists can tell you nothing.
So whence motivation? Where does energy come from? It’s a rabbit. And you pull it out of a hat.
Almost a year ago I began working on this cartoon for a painting. I don’t recall what prompted it. I carried it with me when my daughter was taking a class somewhere, and I worked on it inside an empty art classroom while I waited. It was my portable project.
I had plans for painting it that I still have not as yet realized. But the idea has stuck with me. It’s one of several thoughts I have about future flower paintings. Now it seems almost fortuitous that I waited since the Frederick Bazille exhibit at the National Gallery of Art includes several large paintings of flowers.
I can begin my picture while I have all these exemplary models near by. Also, you see, being in the midst of the Big Tidy Campaign of 2017, one becomes nostalgic. In fact I discovered that a year had passed after finding, while I was cleaning, an old notebook from a year ago where I had been recording the ideas.
I blogged about it too. Somewhere I have a bunch of related drawings. These reproductions will probably be easier to locate than the originals — even now — even as I sort through stuff.
In this the Big Tidy Campaign of 2017 one encounters many thorny questions. I have several conundrums that I face. In those moments work stops, and I must think.
It’s no use just bashing about — one needs a plan. Actually I have a plan. But the obstacles (there are obstacles), they slow you down.
To represent these episodes of cogitation, I have pulled out this little drawing of Planes of the Head Guy. I don’t have a Planes of the Head Guy myself. I drew someone else’s Planes of the Head Guy a while back.
I confess it confused me at first. I was wondering as I was looking at this drawing (clearly after a sculpture) why I hadn’t drawn the other eye. Then I remembered. “It’s Planes of the Head Guy.” Of course.
He is only anatomical on one side. He’s mostly planes on the other side. “Ah,” you say, “that explains it.” Would that the obstacles to the Big Tidy were as clearly discerned.
Anyway, I’m thinking. We’re thinking. Me and Planes of the Head Guy.
The subterranean aspects of house cleaning take you into the dark waters where sometimes dark fishes swim unseen in the murk. Okay, I guess that’s a mixed metaphor unless I have a koi pond in the house — oh wait — I do. I do have a koi pond in the house. I have many koi ponds in the house. I should count them sometime. But as I was saying …
House cleaning is like dreaming, and certain images — when you find them behind this or that item dredged up from the general disorder — take on renewed significance. I know that as I sift through things, I will find used ideas, and some new-to-me ideas — even though they are really my ideas — and yet my old ideas are like hand-me-downs from my past self to Present Tense Me.
Well, anyway suffice it to say that house cleaning is such a creative endeavor that you wonder why you don’t do it more often — except for the realization that it was the separation in time that gives the old ideas their new power.
House cleaning is an amazing experience. Try it. Marie Kondo says we will be transformed.
Cleaning house is a psychological event. I have already had more than one reunion with a long lost item. I am discovering while reading Marie Kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” that many things that fill my house can easily be tossed. I haven’t used them in years. I don’t need them. I’ll never use them. Time to release such things back into the wild.
But I am also finding many things that were merely hidden under the crush of stuff. Retrieving these items is archaeology. Rediscovering these hidden items gives me access to other parts of my memory. They are like windows opening onto my past life.
And so cleaning house is a bit like dreaming.
I never know exactly what I will find. I open a door and an image is waiting there.
I am welcoming many long interred ideas back into my life. And it is changing me.
Memory is a source of invention.