13 June 2009

Meditations on vastness

Because Blue Always Forgives Red

Just under 4' x 8.5', Because Blue Always Forgives Red is the first large-format painting I finished last fall. I had a couple of other large canvases -- Blue Flame (4' x 5') and Rain At Dawn (4' x 9') -- in the works at the time, but this one I finished first.

I painted it for my sister, Carrie, who passed away in 1996 from cancer. It pretty much sums up how I knew and understood her to be -- carrying a great deal of weight and troubles, but still able to flow through it all with remarkable energy and grace.

Until last year, I had never seriously considered painting on canvas. It always seemed like such a big deal to me. And messy. And where would I work, anyway? But I got all fired up when my friend and fellow painter extraordinaire Stone Riley prodded and cajoled me into at least trying it.

So, I did.

I went out and bought some supplies, trucked them home, and we threw together some frames, stapled canvas onto them, and gesso'ed the heck out of them. Then we let them sit, and I started work on them a few weeks later. What came out of it all both surprised and frightened me a little. What I got was a wide swath of abstract colors, and two intensely dark works that just exude vastness.

I'm not sure where these two dark works "came from," but standing in front of them makes me want to fall to my knees in that abject sort of veneration I imagine the ancients felt in the face of Great Mystery. Whenever I show them to friends, they are moved -- sometimes to tears.

I, myself, am sometimes moved to tears. The depth is just so ... there. I simply procured the supplies, put myself in the mood, and then showed up with the intention to serve whatever Goodness chose to manifest itself through me. I'm sure it sounds all mystical and whatnot... and it was.

I really can't explain it. You'd have to see it for yourself.

To date, I have yet to stretch the canvases. I have them rolled and I haul them around to show friends and acquaintances, when I get the chance. I'm always interested to see how people take in the big, deep ones. Sometimes they're afraid. Very afraid. And they either freeze... or they back away and leave the room.

I still have to get pictures of Blue Flame and Rain At Dawn. It's pretty tough to photograph them without proper lighting. In any case, they are much better experienced in person.

And that's what you have to do with them -- not look at them, not intellectualize about them, but experience them.

And the vastness.