Saturday, September 22, 2007

Horror Vacui

I'm looking at my latest abstract in progress, painted for the relief of my soul, experimenting with grays, constraining color, trying something a little different. I see that I have filled the space, again. That's not different.

"horror vacui - The compulsion to make marks in every space. Horror vacui is indicated by a crowded design. In Latin, it is literally, "fear of empty space" or "fear of emptiness." Some consider horror vacui one of the principles of design. Those who exclude it from their list of principles apparently interpret it as possessing an undesirable, perhaps obsessive quality, in contrast to the desirable, controlled principle of limitation, or perhaps to that of emphasis or dominance."*

I have a lot of uncertainty at the moment. My Dad is in the midst of surgeries for cancer, having vertebrae removed. I think my mind can't abide the idea of the gaps the surgeries leave in the heart of his skeleton. I think of the radiation treatment slowing the formation of new bone there and I feel a smoldering anger. I want those gaps closed, those wounds healed.

I have a new boss at work, and it's too soon to be able to interpret his motives, his tone, his unspoken expectations. That gap inside me usually leaves room for demons. I fill it up as best I can with what I do know about him (which is all good) and a repeated mantra that I always borrow the most worry where there is the least real cause.

What I need is to know what people think of me; a vacuum there makes my teeth ache and makes me restless, prying and poking to know how they feel. The needy side of my personality.

Driving to work without the radio feels impossible right now. It leaves a mental vacuum where all the other vacuums gather.

An empty page creates a similar horror.

So I make marks, add colors, paint until the entire page is full, and every large shape is broken into smaller shapes, like someone compulsively tearing a piece of paper into smaller and smaller bits.

This is all like the weather, and I know the current stormy time will give way again to mild sun and playful shadows, where the sounds of crickets and small birds can fill my heart, music for the happy skipping steps of my inner child.

I want to reach there, though, with my Dad.

*from ArtLex's Ho-Hz page. So control and dominance are not obsessive, also?

Photo above is from the beach at Grand View Preserve, near Norfolk, VA. Hardly a blank space in the sand as far as I could see; I wanted to take it all home.

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