Time and Emotion
"True art lies in a reality that is felt."
– Odilon Redon
Art can be so difficult to discuss because it evokes so much emotion. The link between art and emotion cannot be separated. Being able to articulate emotion is not necessary to feel its power, but giving language to it does provide an enhanced nuance. In a recent book I just finished reading by Brené Brown, "Atlas of the Heart," I was surprised to learn that, on average, most people only rapidly recall three emotions, happiness, sadness, and anger. It is a struggle to name the other 20 -90 emotions. The primary three emotions are simply inadequate in describing subtle art. For example, looking at the beach scene above, the word "peaceful" best describes my initial response. Other possible emotional words useful in viewing this month's beach scene are awe, wonder, curiosity, admiration, reverence, tranquility, humility, paradox, and even perhaps bittersweet. You have a different set of valuable words altogether. If so, shoot me a message! I'd love to know!
Bittersweet, one of the more complex emotional words, is a word I attach to work containing personal memories. It is also an emotion worth examining here. Critically acclaimed author Marc Parent writes in his book, Believing it All," that the bittersweet side of appreciating life's most precious moments is the unbearable awareness that those moments are passing." Why do we appreciate things so much more when they are gone? Learning to enjoy the moment at the moment is a beautiful gift.
Last year I left this painting as a work-in-process with plans to return to working on it in the spring. I wanted more time to study and create life sketches of the foilage entering the beach. It sat untouched and examined since the day I left it in Florida last May. It is amazing what a year of perspective has given me on this piece. Two unforeseen events occurred in the meantime. First, upon re-examining the work eight months later, I was surprised by how much I liked it in its current state. I was too hard on myself, thinking it was not good enough when it had so much to offer me. It is full of layers of surprise with a tiny burst of color among jagged dark shapes and bright shapes. I used various mark-making tools, including a wit of oil pastels and crayons, along with gel mediums. The sense of play and experimentation comes through, but it is amid the structured framework of a beach scene that was very much presented before me.
Second, while I had thought it unfinished, I thought I would have plenty of time to return to it this winter. But alas... the hurricane has removed the foilage of study.
I am calling in finished. It is a marker of history now, a moment in time. I thought about the previous season that I could reflect upon. It is often a significant mistake of an artist to overwork a painting, never content with its imperfections, but those imperfections are precisely its magic.