Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A few years ago I saw a program on erosion (I think it was on NATURE on PBS), and the formation of the Grand Canyon. I think most of us learned - at least I did - that erosion happens a little bit at a time. Water trickles along, following it’s path of least resistance, dissolving and carrying small particles along, and as this repeats over a bazillion years - poof, there’s the Grand Canyon.

It turns out that’s only part of the story. There are occasionally catastrophic debris flows, the perfect storm of water and mud, rocks and whatever else gets swept up in the mix, that scour and accelerate the change. So things move quietly along, slowly developing and then a sudden buildup of conditions and there is more significant, concentrated change. Then back to trickling.

I trickled along for years, painting anything and everything. Frustrations built up - Where am I going? What’s my life about? Debris flow. Realizing landscape was the most compelling subject to me. I painted plein aire for quite awhile, then tried working from photographs. Then, years later again, the most significant change in my work came when I realized I was more interested in the memory of landscape, the landscape that lives in my head, as opposed to recording the exact observation of a place.

OK, so my debris flows aren’t nearly as dramatic as many in the rest of nature. But they’re plenty for me, causing me to get blocked and frustrated - kind of generally losing direction. And I’m in one now. This morning, as my wife left for work, I said, Sometimes I just wish I had a job, so someone would just tell me what I needed to be doing.

I haven’t had a regular job in over 20 years. And I’m not about to start again now. It wouldn’t possibly allow me enough time for my work. The most important part of being an artist is the same as any other small business. You have to show up for work. And this block (it actually feels like there is a barrier in my mind that I’m trying to find a way around), is keeping me from being productive. There have been a several debris flows between the first one and now, and I think I have another one coming. Which is really the purpose of this whole exercise - trying to work/force my way through it.

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