Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Garden

I've been more enigmatic than usual lately, talking about a garden I can't get into... Linda asked what I was talking about, and I replied to her comment - but I'll repeat it here, with some embellishment, editing, and conclusio and then some:

I am trying to get into my inner world, my heart, to paint what is there without rules like perspective, or gravity. That much I've said before. What I came to feel trying to set up the last painting (the one that is now last night's mess, and was four different drawings, none right) is that I am outside an extremely large garden, with a high wall (no peeking) and I can't get in. Inside is that land without rules, where my inner child can paint. That's my Hundertwasser place, where flies my version of the Twittering Machine, the Jabberwocky, etc. I know I'll get in there, but not how or when, yet. I wasn't content with any of the four drawings because they weren't THERE, and I wasn't interested in painting something else outside the walls. I feel like that's what I've been doing - painting my way closer and closer... Finally I just plunged in and painted, resulting in last night's highly colored mess. I'm not sure this painting is going where I want to go, either, but at least I'm not sure it isn't. And I'd rather move than sit still. The painting Coming Home (above) is like a shadow or hint of the place, and I think it was also part of how I at last arrived at the walls.

I can see the garden walls so clearly I could almost draw them. They are bathed in ruddy end-of-day sunlight (my favorite, the last hour before sunset), and they are of sandstone, almost mauve in color, but enriched and warmed by the gorgeous light. They are about ten feet high, blocks laid on blocks without mortar showing anywhere. They have lots of corners and turns; the outer boundary is an interesting shape. I have not tried to climb them - it doesn't feel like the right thing to do. Ivy and vines festoon the top, but there is no chink or gap or gate anywhere, and I know my inner artist/child has walked miles around this wall without finding a way in. It's beautiful outside the walls, and I know it's even more so inside. I've been there a few times before in dreams. And some songs send me glimpses, too. Like Bruce Cockburn's lyric, "Had another dream about lions at the door; they were not as frightening as they were before."

The last time my inner vision was this clear was shortly after I'd become unblocked, when I found out several things. First, my inner artist doesn't have a beard. I think I already knew that. He had been very still, pale, cold, and not breathing, under a lot of scrub in a hilly place above a sea. At first I tought he was mute beacuse he was so newly awake, and had been like a corpse for so long. But now I realize that he doesn't speak with words - only acts, gestures, and pictures. He's well and quite active now, and I don't usually see him - we're more integrated than that. I'm often looking at things inside me through his (my) eyes. The last time I did actually see him he was on the shore, where the sunlight was incredible, and he was going out sailing every day, alone, out of sight of land, looking for something. Then the paintings started coming more frequently and I lost sight of him.

To sum up: I want to paint from a different part of me - deeper within me. It's a longing and an anticipation and a comfort all at once, to know I'm moving towards this, to want it. And I'm not all that interested in painting anything else, or any other way.

Figure drawing feels like part of this - I don't anticipate that stopping. But I see the figures and even the method of drawing them changing as I explore this.

This is the artistic equivalent of a spirit quest. I'm Pellinore chasing my questing beast. Only it's a place, I think, and my brushes and I will eventually live there.

17 comments:

Summer Kinard said...

I feel like I can relate to the artistic experience you describe. When I am really "singing," there's a sort of transcendence that takes place, an integration of my "selves" and the music and all that is holy, every echo of "Sanctus" in the world.

Thank you for sharing your art with us.

susan said...

As I was considering my response I found myself gazing at the photo display over on the right. Your paintings are lovely and I particularly like the ones where you've left open spaces with hints of color. There's something ephemeral about them that speaks of a land where shapes grow, fulfill their propensities toward concrete reality then burst like bubbles before they get weighed down.

I know the garden you mean but for me the journey to it necessitates much solitude which can be hard to find here in samsaric existence.

Leah said...

oh, but it's so fun to go on this journey of discovery with you! you will get there!

Genie Sea said...

What a noble quest! You are surely very up to it! :) Thank you for taking us with you, and if you need a few sidekicks, we're ready for the job! :)

If Coming Home is but a shadow of this secret garden then it is more magical and more stately than Kubla Khan's Pleasure Dome! I am heady with anticipation!

linda said...

" The last time I did actually see him he was on the shore, where the sunlight was incredible, and he was going out sailing every day, alone, out of sight of land, looking for something. Then the paintings started coming more frequently and I lost sight of him."

my painting which you have not yet seen, must be where he sets sail and disappears into the light...there are no coincidences and when I read this, I understood.. a most vile creature ventured into my garden under the cover of night, inside~ with me, and hate-full energy, which try as I might, I cannot rid myself, he left behind...I hope he is drug from my shore, down to the depths, rocks and boulders about his neck, never to be seen again. Perhaps that is what he, your inner artist, is doing and why you can't see him...sailing out to sea, dragging bad energies to a secret place far away from our gardens, and disposing of them quickly, silently, before most anyone sees them or feels them sucking their visions away...

...I have no trouble retreating behind walls of gardens and living forever, unseen.

Lisa said...

I think it's interesting how you separate the self who creates the are from the self who goes to work or fills up the car's gas tank or weeds the garden.....and I'm not surprised that you have a whole bunch of feelings about it.

I wonder what will come out of this creatively.

Steve Emery said...

Everyone - Thank you - It's late, and I have to go to bed early tonight, so a short reply.

I like the way each of you "get" what I'm up to here - it's important to me. I still don't know where I'm going, but I'm going.

Linda - I am so sorry you had a troll! (that's what I'm guessing happened) How awful.

MLight said...

"There is no wall" said the owl.

Very interesting analogy/vision of the wall. Now, go back to painting. If you spend your effort trying to get through the wall, you won't; if you paint, you'll never notice when the wall disappears.

Platform.

Steve Emery said...

MLight - (grin) As usual you are just right. Standing here looking at the wall or thinking/talking about it isn't how I got here, not how I'll get through. I have to ignore it and keep painting. Yep - it's a platform problem.

("There is no boy," said the owl, hopefully. - T. H. White's The Once and Future King.

Thalia Took said...

Yes, I think MLight's idea very good. I was going to say you can always paint a picture of the wall itself; it is there for a reason, and maybe needs some concrete (har har) acknowledgment. And anyway, if you're blocked, you can always do art about being blocked, right?

I think the walls are more permeable than you think, too.

redchair said...

I get it! And- completely UNDERSTOOD the original comment/post. We get that way as artist and it's pretty tough to put it into words. It's a process to keep on evolving but it looks and sounds like your doing fine. The painting is beautiful.

Vikki

Distributorcap said...

i wish i could paint like you and i use art as the form of self awareness you do...

i love this painting

tammy vitale said...

Do you know the work of Walter Anderson? That "set sail" made me think of him. He was a Mississippi coast painter - I think it's his daughter that has shepharded his memory. There's a museum...I have books on him. his work is awesome.
http://www.walterandersonmuseum.org/
He took off regularly (and left wife and kids to fend - his family stepped in and helped) to live on an unpopulated island in the gulf just off the coast. Rowed himself out, lived under his boat. And made the most marvelous watercolors... go see. Husband and I were doing a loop around the SE states, stopped in Vicksburg for a ramble through a B&B there that had some of his work and since we were headed toward Mississipi looked him up. So glad we did! Luckily Katrina did not take out the museum.

Steve Emery said...

Thalia - Yes, I knew as soon as I read her words that I had to paint my way through. Or paint the walls...

Vikki - The "mess" is resolving itself nicely, and all these bare tree trunks and the axe work I did yesterday (beautiful weather here in NC) has filled my mind with beautiful tree trunks. Not sure where the foxes came from.

DCap - I think you express yourself pretty well on your blog - though I can't know how much is not coming through... And thanks - I hope you continue to like it as it grows to completion.

Tammy - Thanks for the tip on Walter Anderson! He is obviously some kind of kin of mine. Some of the pieces look like something I would like to paint! And he loved color in a way that looks very familiar.

originalbliss said...

"Chasing the Questing Beast".... I love it!

Jul said...

I love this post, and the painting at the top of it. I think we are on similar quests.

I'm trying to get over my fear of the messes, the paintings that don't go where I want them to go. To embrace them as learning experiences, rather than wastes of time and materials. Hmmm... maybe I'll put together a post full of some of my recent messes.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

This is so amazing, both your painting and your words about it!