Veils of Perception

We had a marvelous thunder storm last week. My town had a power failure around 6:30 pm. I drew in the twilight. I was using children’s crayons again, a most forgiving medium. I drew until I couldn’t see. Then I lit a candle and drew a bit more in that odd light. Here’s one drawing from inside the gloom. The photo doesn’t show what I saw, but reveals how the drawing looked when photographed in daylight.

The drawing is light. What I saw in the motif (copying from a painting) and on the page, those perceptions were both dark. I couldn’t tell what colors I was using. I couldn’t even read the words on the crayon label. I just picked up a crayon and drew. If I couldn’t see the line at all, I chose another.

It was a really fun way to spend the time. What else are you going to do when the lights go out? The power outage lasted until 8:38 pm. Observing my own mind’s responses was intriguing too. Drawing in the gloom was pleasant at first. After a while, I began to feel though as if it were a game. I was ready for the lights to be back on. That’s when I felt my keen dependence on modern technology. I really do love modern lighting! My mother grew up without it. Her childhood was lit by oil lamps. Strange to contemplate my nearness to that world.

Anyway, the lesson of the gloom was that your response to drawing can always grow in freedom. While I drew in low light, I drew without expectations since I could barely see what I was doing. When the lights returned, realizing how wonderful it felt to “just draw” I resolved that no matter how much acuity I enjoy that I will always aim to balance deliberation with letting go.

Alternate between those states.

Finishing Fish

koi finishing

I have begun finishing koi paintings.  It’s a strange process finishing a painting because it’s such an open-ended and uncertain process.  Of course, in truth, finishing is nothing more than continuing to paint until one is “done.”  If you have a very specific notion of what the image should look like, arriving at “done” is mostly a matter of nose grind-stoning.  But it’s very possible for a picture to be elusive right until the very last minute, which is kind of what I’m up against with these koi — and this is all the more ironic since I’m painting some of them from preexisting images.  All I need really do is just copy my image (the painting’s are enlargements of something), but somehow mystery enters during the translation.  I don’t recognize the paintings being at all identical to their sources — indeed they are so different that I can honestly say I have no idea how they will turn out.

I get some sense of what novelists talk about when they describe their characters taking over a novel while it’s being written.  I knew I was making progress on a painting when the koi started swimming — and that’s a good thing.  I want them to swim.  But I don’t know where they are going.  And you’d think I would know.

Why is the artist always the last to know?

Above, still unresolved swimming going on.