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Courage to Paint

Courage to Paint

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Published by Meghan Caughey
Another day in the studio.The process of making a painting and losing my mind---finding my self.
Another day in the studio.The process of making a painting and losing my mind---finding my self.

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Published by: Meghan Caughey on Dec 25, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/12/2014

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The Courage to Paint
It is hard to be in the studio right now. There were Christmas carols playing aminute ago, but I replaced them. Now there is an edgy music, which matches myabstracted frame of mind.Sometimes I feel my courage wavering when I am standing in front of a largeempty canvas. I am feeling that way right now. Today I look at the large, blank,white expanse and I am both scared, yet I yearn to dive into the process---theprocess of losing my self, yet once again.It seems unsafe, yet also familiar and reassuring.There is a melancholy that I am striving to hold on to , in order to replace thewild, biting ,unpredictable madness, where I lose all bearing of where and who Iam.Sometimes sadness is the desirable choice, when compared to unholdable fear,the raging energies that wreck their way through me.I am thinking of my walk next to the green river a few days ago. The leaves hadfallen from the trees and lay wet, brown in the dark fertile river mud that makesthe trail. I was aware that the birds were silent ---they had been so present intheir voices in the late summer. If I choose to paint about this experience, thenmy palette will be umber, olive, cadmium yellow, light, black and grey. When Ithink of umber, I do not want to go there: it may be organic, but it seems like aquagmire where I would be suffocated.As I think about the river, I begin to feel committed, to sense the inevitability of avery different painting that is crawling into my conscious.I need to dive into the paint, forget about the empty spaces, go down, down,down, into the remembering of wet, damp walks, where I felt furious andconfused.I am there still.There is really no forgetting of times and places that seem to go on forever.Some moments cannot be uttered. The tracks that they have left in my psychestill remain.I can paint to excise the images that chisel their shapes inside the space behindmy eyes. Moments of great loss, moments that I will not talk about, but thatperhaps I can paint…,I find an old unfinished canvas behind a stash of finished paintings—it was awork from months ago that I had stopped when it did not seem to be goinganywhere. ---There is a bright cadmium yellow lotus, red center rising, withorganic green ooze surrounding it, white lines incised into the ground.This is a place to start.The music pounds out a message about “little earthquakes….”. This phrasestrikes me as fitting for this moment.
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Now ivory black, lots of it, then chiseling lines into with the French knife, which isas much my tool, as any brush.It fits so well in my hand. It cuts deep, through the heaviest paint.I feel myself slip into that mad place, familiar, yet always catching me off guard.This is so necessary. I need to be here to make genuine images come out.Yes, I am going into this mind state, ceasing to flee the madness, but delving in,paint on my hands, on my face, the image is arising.I push paint on and then yank it of--scrape it off, then yellow, straight from thetube—across the dark jagged shapes.The pace of my work is fast now—faster and faster still. There is no hesitation.Ananda comes up, wanting to be petted. She has been sitting on the windowseat staring out the from the window as I paint.I move back and sink into the sofa, looking at my work; Ananda crawls into mylap and I try to pet her without getting the black paint on my hands all over.I see the next move, and I jump up, back to the canvas. I mix a dark blue paintwith a thickening medium, and then I go into the edges of the painting, whichdeepens the black.Stepping back, I inspect look at the picture once more.It is a person on fire, running across the surface of the canvas. The cadmiumyellow flames, lines straight from the tube, forming the electric hair…No languid green river here.Instead, here is a person burning up, and running away.This is how I am, deep inside where the edges are torn, and raw.A green river, a walk in the cool late autumn air would be a relief… maybe I couldpaint that on a day of greater calm.But here she is, the image of the burning person.Isn’t this how my life is, at present ---longing for the cool green river, but instead,burning up throughout my self?Sometimes I want to change every single thing in my life---change it all at once,to be out. I long for some different kind of being. This is too hot—too fiery , allonce.Yet, here in my studio today, I solidly know that I am making myself free.I may not be free of the loud, intrusion of feelings and thoughts inside my head.But even with all of that, I make myself free by the act of putting this image inpaint on canvas.
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