I tend to work in a series and this was item three in a series this spring that started with the image I posted in September 16th’s blog post.
The second image in the series was the image in Monday’s blog post.
What Do They Have in Common That Holds Them Together as a Series?
They are all men with beards (that’s a really long-running series).
They were all done on Fluid 100 Hot Press 140 lb. watercolor paper (which has a lovely gelatin sizing).
They were all done predominantly with flats and filberts.
They were all done in a two day period where I was trying to prove to myself that I could paint without glasses if I had to (following cataract surgery).
And they were all done because I was hungry for color (having worked mostly monochromatically following the second surgery), and eager to push the paint around.
The moment was difficult. I was already hunting for something that was lost.
Painting without crisp vision frustrated me. It induced headaches.
Because of the other side effects I was having following cataract surgery I had decided that I would force myself to return to color and keep working regardless of the difficulties. This is my usual response to difficulties: keep working. I really don’t believe we have any other choice.
I felt that the three paintings I’ve mentioned were successful, but they also marked a change for me.
I realized that because the complications post surgery were permanent I wouldn’t be sketching 5 to 10 hours a day any longer. My eyes were shutting down at 3 hours total. (Computer work, reading, drawing. No more marathons of anything.)
Rather than being sad about that unexpected change I realized with these three paintings I could walk away from sketching and painting, no regrets. (Sadness, yes; mega-grief, yep; but no regrets.)
I’m still in transition as of today, but that realization when I finished this painting has made the following days bearable.
It’s difficult to walk away from something you love. It’s difficult to walk away from something that has defined you throughout your life.
It is a good thing to think about who and what you really are at your core.
Often we like to think that we are living the examined life, that we are paying attention.
Then life coldcocks us.
We realize that maybe we weren’t paying attention; paying attention to the right thing; or standing back and paying broader attention to a bigger picture (which includes the thing we really needed to be paying attention to).
Or we realize that we were simply not embracing a large enough definition of self.
The next moment, the next action we take. That’s the one that defines us.
We always claimed we knew that. It’s easy to ignore that equation on a moment to moment basis when the stakes seem low. But aren’t the stakes always high?
I’ve been working on redefining my definition of self.