That’s right, buy your oil paintings from a true non-professional and save, save, save. I have as much chance of becoming the next Van Gogh as most of my serious artist friends, maybe more so, because I am much more insane than they are.
Hey, now wait a minute. This is fun, although I really wish I had some idea of what I’m doing, but how often do we get to fully do something in life without having to worry about repercussions or lack of finesse? I just like the smell of oil paint and turpentine in my bedroom. I like paint on my clothes and under my fingernails. I can paint my own little world and not worry about the big world. I can paint a picture over and over and over again and make it worse and worse, then take a piece of sandpaper and scrub it all off and start over. Eventually something appeals to me and I leave it alone. I put it on my bureau and look at the painting and it comforts me. It feels like a message from myself to myself. A present. A whimsical side-show. An alternative reality. A photograph of the inside of my brain. The less it looks like something the better. The more awkward, quirked, wrong it is the better. I stand tall next to my lousy paintings. They signify a part of me inside me that I lost track of at age 3. The paintings take me directly back to that me in me and it’s great to have visitation rights, finally.
The numbers add up to zero on the economic front and yet we’re all smiling as we grit out teeth. The reason may be lack of experience. Most of us have never had to lick the bottom of disposed paper plates or recycle coffee grains. It is beyond our comprehension that we can’t have most of what we want when we want it.
As an artist I can live very well in this country for under $10,000 a year- because there is so much waste to forage. Gallery openings, cocktail parties, happy hours in hotel lobbies keep me fed without spending a dime. Thrift stores, friends with beach houses, a yoga video tape, Orbitz bargain flights, roommates, bogus car insurance and registration cards, the emergency room, cutting my own hair, – It doesn’t take much ingenuity to survive in a Disney Land of plenty. But what happens when the goodie shoot shuts down? Continue reading
It is a slow death, like a lobster in cold water, the water brought to boil, the brain foggy, heat and suffocation. Nothing radical that might sound an alarm- the sound speaks: GET OUT NOW. Instead — self diminishes to blend with the dull surroundings, a natural reaction in a hostile arena. The arena of ankle biters. Circled by inferiors, a rose choked by weeds– Weeds are powerful, strong and stupid. The majority, safety in numbers. They will press on you, flatten you, coax you into submissive sweetness – your reward? Bread crumbs for your hungry ego. Can it be, that I am dying for lack of New York rent money? If this is true, than others, like me. are living a life in hell because they cannot afford New York. Times have changed. There were shitholes to be had, elegant shitholes, available — a mere fifteen years ago. But I am older now, and maybe that’s the problem. I need a larger comfort. But the comfort afforded me in Providence is my death bed. Soft as it may be, it is not worth dying for.
The moon was fat and floating in a bed of pink but it was overshadowed by Irene Lawrence, Cassandra Tribe and Judith Tolnick-Champa discussing book prologues. Irene had sent a request to a famous writer, asking that he consider writing an introduction to her book, Judith had been on the telephone for an hour wih another writer who wanted Judith to write an introduction for HER book, Cassandra had a couple of books under her belt and so had insightful suggestions for both Judith and Irene, and I just sat there and ate macaroni salad thinking about my unfinished book- still stuffed inside a cardboard box in my closet. It was no matter to me. The three powerful women sitting in my apartment under the July 4th moon made me feel momentarily irrelevent, joyously so. Irrelevence is the cure for hubris, and I have found that my “artists agenda” has lately taken me far from genuine curiosity, clear observation, life “as is” – for its own sake. In an over-processed world, I over-process myself and my work- striving to be a pulsing, thriving mission statement instead of a woman eating macaroni before pushing a doggie stroller down the street to Waterfire.
I think too much. I process too little. Last night, after taking a picture of the bulbous swooning moon, and listening to the smart girls figure out how to manuever themselves through another creative pin-hole, I wanted to stop thinking. I wanted to simply “be” without being somebody. Just breathe and eat macaroni salad. The salad was pretty good because I put double pesto sauce on it and high quality parmesean cheese, and the girls seemed to like it. But then Irene gave me a painting. It was so beautiful, so real, as I gripped it in both hands, and thought, mine…mine…why? — I wanted to leave and reenter the room as another me, the me I could be when I cared and in caring could manifest a masterpiece of equal worth.
Cassandra was discussing ways to multiply blog readership numbers, Judith was discussing the critical nature of the literary interview, Irene answered a question about her use of linen canvas. It was stimulating, valuable information. It was just the way I wanted my living room to buzz. But I was tired. In fact, I realized I had been tired for about ten years, from about the time I’d abandoned the book to the cardboard box.
We walked to Waterfire. The moon followed us as the sky darkened and the fires were orange, spurting blurs of warmth that shown on hundreds of tired faces and the faces were upturned to the fires, eyes closed. The moon shone on the water, and hundreds of people were walking and laughing or sitting and leaning against each other, eyes closed. The mile of Water fires, 80 odd blazing signatures of one man, moved the night and took everyone with them and we were all floating under the dry white moon, and I think everyone was remembering, at the same time, that we had nowhere to go and nothing we really had to do.
In bed, computer on my lap tuned to the local weather radar. Outside the window, the real weather, in real time, as it follows the lead of the satellite view, miles above. The radar indicates a thunderstorm approach. On cue the sky darkens. On screen, a bull’s eye marks the city- Here it comes- a red pulsing blob across the screen indicating severe precipitation. The dogs ears flatten and I settle easy on my pillow, enjoying the cool preceding wind. How does this predictive capacity affect the wonder of weather? When I was a child, it just rained, or snowed, and cleared, rained, snowed and cleared again. We didn’t much think about it. If we were curious, we studied the sky. Mostly, we just let the weather happen, content that it happened. Rain or shine, raincoat or sun suit, plans seldom changed. Weather was a family member, not a guest. We were stuck with it and made due. Most often, disagreeable weather did not affect the success of our ventures. We discovered that picnics in the rain could be fun.
If weather matters to you, over and above the safety factor- if what you intend to do or not do depends on a radar satellite, consider your priorities. Radar can warn you off – place conditions on your day- encourage you to avoid what could have been an unconventional, weather-related experience. Think Dorothy, risk a knock on the head.
++ above, my painting “Purple Weather”