I often paint the rows of a freshly cut field in my work. While this creates an interesting visual effect with its pattern of alternating colors, it also satisfies my own need to express the importance — and necessity–of effort for myself and for my work.
I have often pointed out at gallery talks that I spend huge amounts of time alone working in my studio, well over 50,000 hours in the past fifteen years. I usually make a joke of this, saying that I just tell people I am hard at work during my time in the studio so they will not bother me and that its really not that much work. Okay, maybe there is some truth there as far as not having people bother me. But the fact remains that while I find my time in the studio enjoyable as well as enlightening, it requires great effort and work.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I guess that’s because there is usually a moment after finishing a piece or a group of work for a show when I stop and look at the work in its state of completion. In this moment there is a great sense of satisfaction at the result of my full efforts. And that full effort gives the results a sense of completeness and their completeness brings me my own completeness, a fulfillment of some small purpose that I find necessary in order to persist in this world.
That small moment of satisfaction makes all the work, all the frustration and missteps, fade away and that which should have depleted me now serves as nourishment. I find myself strengthened for another day.
Maybe that what I see in this new painting, an 18″ by 18″ canvas which is headed out to California. It is called The Satisfaction, of course. It very much reflects what I have written here, with the Red Tree representing someone looking back on the results of a long day of labor. And again, they feel uplifted rather than worn down.
I know it’s not always that way. There have been times when work has been very draining, definitely in my past and occasionally even now. But knowing that special moment of satisfaction that comes along every so often is out there makes me look forward to the task and the effort ahead.