This is a new piece, a small painting about 7″ by 11″ on paper. I still have no name for it. I’ve been spending the last several days trying to refind my normal painting rhythm. I use the term rhythm quite often in describing what I do and always struggle when trying to descrribe exactly what I mean when using it. But this time it means the actual ebb and flow of the act of painting, the tempo of the creative process as an idea forms and takes shape before me on the surface. I normally fall easily into a pattern where one action of painting inspires another and so on, almost self-perpuating. Color begets color and line begets line, each sparking a new idea, a new thought. It’s a rhythm that I have depended on for most of the time I have painted.
When I’m away from painting as I have been lately, doing needed projects around the home and studio, I fall out of this rhythm. I can tell during the day, an uneasy knot forming in my gut. This rhythmic pattern has become vital to my well-being and when it’s disrupted, I get antsy and out of sorts. Usually, I am back into it within a day or two with little loss of momentum and this unease fades quickly into the paint and routine. Some times, as is the case at the moment, it becomes more of a struggle to regain that rhythm, to find that groove in which to take hold. Nothing starts nor finishes easily. Color doesn’t sing on the surface, laying there with an uninspired flatness. Lines are listless and forms dull. One piece does not inspire the next. In fact, it brings dread to the next piece.
I find myself trashing piece after piece, something I seldom do. I normally can find something that I want to keep in a piece even if it is only for the lesson learned from its deficiencies. But these failures seem dismal and dull. Their very existence bothers me and they go in the trash.
But time has taught me not to panic when I am struggling to find footing. I became more determined and go back to basics, working on small blocks of color, trying to find life and visual excitement in each little block. At first, even this was a chore, like slogging in ankle deep creative mud. But eventually, something broke loose and I find myself finding a stirring of life in the colors and forms and soon I am excited by what I am seeing. The next move has been inspired and soon my mind is filled with possibilities and potentialities for several new pieces. Rhythm seems almost at hand and the knot in my gut begins to subside, my mind settling into a familiar hum. Like that red tree in the image above, looking out over its domain and feeling that, for the time being, all is right with that world.