Fences keep things out and keep things in. The apertures of the chain link fence let many things in — to say nothing of all the things that fly over it. Animals and people are kept out or let in. Birds and insects don’t know there’s even a fence. For the bird or the insect, it’s a perch. For the spider it’s a place to build the web.
Lattice fences hold a fascination for me. I don’t know why. But I note that many other things that I want to put into the painting have lattices in them also — fish scales, owl feathers, cicada wings, dragonfly wings, a spider’s web, leaves (okay, that one’s a stretch — but Pierre Bonnard — ask him about little leafy squares), wave patterns ….
I had done the lattice before without awareness of the many connections, as the chain link fence in this drawing which is also a drawing for a painting that is “in the works.”
The lattice is the ultimate in negative space. Half the fun is that you can paint the thing and the space inside it too. I see the whole picture as a matrix and a veil in front of the eyes, a reality one creates like the dreamer of Ursula Le Guin’s Lathe of Heaven.
Let it never be said that I lack a work ethic. I have made several versions of the foliage imagery. I enjoy going over it again and again. It’s incredibly scribbly. Many little bits of leaf, many pieces of light and shadow — and yet also many ways of thinking about the organization of the large forms.
I did this drawing using Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencil. Then put a bit of watercolor over that.
I have lost count how many variations this is. I love this motif, but it’s just a part. I need to figure out how it will relate to the other sections of the idea. I haven’t even made the first compositional drawing yet.
It’s just one part of an idea. Each time I draw, each time I write, I get a few more bits of the idea. It’s like lucid dreaming.
Scribbling out the idea … it’s like sight reading in music. I’m not sure how the music sounds yet. I haven’t actually heard it. I’m reading the parts, getting figures in my head. First I have to find out what is there. Later I will look for interpretation. First comes practice. At some future juncture my hands will go straight to the notes. You must assimilate the music. It has to go from the page to the interior of your head. You have to hear it a while, get a feeling for the whole, discover its anticipations, its revelations.
There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. I don’t even know what the beginning is. I compose the visual music at the same time that I learn it.
Why — if a yellow plate with a honey comb and a honey jar sitting on it is like the moon — like a moon in a dark night sky composed of arabesques of leaves and flowers — why is the picture a still life and not a landscape? Why not just paint the moon and the stars?
Of course maybe (it’s entirely possible) the picture is not a moon at night. Maybe a honey jar is just a honey jar, a yellow plate is a yellow plate, a honey comb nothing more significant than itself alone.
I don’t know why I even brought it up. (Someone asked me only yesterday if I ever experience synesthesia. Does this count?)
I just thought it was moon-like in its light.
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.