Reflections on Art and Life
Where have you done it? So far I have done it on the kitchen counter, in the bathtub, in the basement, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, the living room, and the music studio. I know that many people enjoy doing it outdoors, but I prefer staying inside. I am, of course, talking about painting.
I am always looking for ideal circumstances with a flowing and logical setup. Everything has to be just so or I am not able to concentrate. Clutter frustrates and depresses me. Noise distracts me. I love clean surfaces and minimalist design. The art can be as whimsical and unpredictable as it wishes, but the surroundings that empower it must be restrained.
I don’t think I could ever share a space with another artist as I prefer to work alone, undisturbed. I cannot tolerate the TV or radio noise. I rarely even play music when I paint, lest I be emotionally pulled away from what I am attempting to capture on the canvas. When I listen to music, my mind usually slips into analysis mode and I begin to trace the bass line or harmony. It can quickly spiral out of control and I have to remind myself to keep both of my hands on the color wheel.
Every few months I move the furniture around in search of the ideal setup. This restlessness can either produce a liberating configuration or reveal that my struggle masks deeper unsolvable issues. Scarce lighting cannot be mitigated by organizing paint tubes any more than low temperatures can be raised by elevating the table height. Yet, I keep on fidgeting and tweaking stuff. Easel over here. Music over there. I don’t want to see the paints while I compose. But can I look at the keyboard while painting? Oh, for heaven’s sake, this is getting a little Princess-and-the-Pea-ish! And what about writing? Others have writing desks, designated surfaces just for that singular purpose. I am getting more “wrong ideas”.
I find my creative space and material objects restraining, limiting. In the same sense, I find that even my own body is an obstacle to expressing my intent. The hand that holds the pen is too slow to notate the flow of outpouring music. It is too stiff while mixing the paint, too awkward when typing words. I long for the seamless poetry of the creative process, yet I am confronted with the jagged prose of my own tangible and intangible needs.
I am not able to detach myself from my surroundings. I am deeply affected by the vibe of the room, its energy, its light intensity, its character. All these can shift with the time of day, the seasons, even my own relationship with the space, past memories, and future imaginings.
If I seem unreasonable in attempting to create an ideal space for art making, it is not because I like to fuss over insignificant details or enjoy playing elaborate procrastination schemes. It is because art creation is of primary, sacred importance to me. And if this is so, then, subconsciously, I am trying to construct a temple to house a holy ritual. Major world religions follow ancient guidelines for designing of religious edifices, but when it comes to art making, I am left to experimentation.
Today I spent most of the day painting in the gloominess of a rainy day with grey light evenly distributed across the room. In the evening the skies suddenly opened, letting warm peach colored light spill into all crevices casting sharp shadows in the corners. My canvas was lit from the back as the light poured through the west facing window. I would have liked to interpret that moment as a seal of Divine Approval, but the forecasts are telling me that tomorrow the weather patterns will be shifting and I will have to move the easel one more time.
©2016 Dosia McKay