I have been wondering about these leaves. Clearly the scale of the leaves and the scale of the moth are at odds with each other. But I felt from the outset that the leaves should be that way — that they should fracture the surface. And my intuition told me it should be those leaves, too, because the color is right — even though the color is false because I artificially altered the colors of the photograph and now I don’t even remember what kinds of leaves they were.
But the clearest sign I have that the leaves are the right leaves is that parts of the most recent dream comes back while I draw. I don’t recall the dream exactly, but moments of it come into thought where I seem to see the images in peripheral vision. Then the memories scatter as dreams often do.
The dream tone is there. The emotion functions like a rope that you can use to pull yourself back into the outer margins of the dream even though, of course, you’re wide awake.
So if these leaves can evoke the dream tone, then something about them must be right. They don’t have any logic. These leaves have nothing to do with this kind of moth — not in real life. But in terms of some kind of symbolism their convergence makes sense. I’m going to go with that. A picture can have a logic all its own.
I want it to have logic. I want it to cohere. But it has to happen on its proper terms. I don’t feel that I choose those conditions. Somehow I found them and I just recorded them.
I’m drawing the moth today — preparations for a painting that’s in the works. But my thoughts keep returning to this landscape painting above that I began perhaps two years ago and which I return to from time to time — and which I need to finish fairly soon.
It will have a lattice across the middle to represent the chain link fence. At long last it will have many other minor additions of dot or color.
Something about drawing the veins of the leaves reminds me of the small passages of the garden painting and of the ways that I seem to re-enter the garden whenever I work on it — as though the flowers were still there, as though the blueberries were still being prepared for planting, as though time were standing still back one morning years ago and the shaded leaves still bent under the weight of the dew.
One seems to have a sense of the future, but you can’t really know what the future will be. The future one imagines is not the future that arrives. And the past that you relive is not the same as the past that occurred. The present — even the present shifts — even as you live inside it.
Van Gogh was such a wonderful writer as well as being a great artist. If you rummage through his letters even at random, you always find something remarkable. So it is that I find this passage today:
The poor soil of Drenthe is the same, only the black earth is even blacker — like soot — not a lilac black like the furrows, and melancholically overgrown with eternally rotting heather and peat. I see that everywhere — the chance effects on that infinite background: in the peat bogs the sod huts, in the fertile areas, really primitive hulks of farmhouses and sheepfolds with low, very low walls, and huge mossy roofs. Oaks around them. When one travels for hours and hours through the region, one feels as if there’s actually nothing but that infinite earth, that mould of wheat or heather, that infinite sky. Horses, people seem as small as fleas then. One feels nothing any more, however big it may be in itself, one only knows that there is land and sky.
For Van Gogh on that day it was his being in an enormous prospect outdoors, among infinite seeming fields. For me it is the confined corner of my studio where I find another sort of infinity — for everywhere I look I see some small thing that opens large with details and beauty. And everywhere I look the things seem imbued with ideas. Nature has filled the room with thoughts and the things are poems.