Just the Way You Are

A Heart Painting Wants Me

Am working toward a painting that flashed into my mind's eye as I drove to Atlanta about two and a half weeks ago. I've been working toward it ever since, and think it might evolve into a series.

I say working “toward” because although I can see the finished painting, I don't yet know how it was made. I'm doing some thumbnail sketches in soft pencil, and some color studies on canvas and on Arches Oil Paper. (That's my current paper of choice for both acrylic and oil pastel, and if I ever paint in oil. I love it!)

Clearly this is a painting that was shopping for a maker. I learned about this process from the sculptor Ann Truitt. In one of her memoirs, perhaps Turn, she tells about a dream in which she saw a finished sculpture. It was very clear and definite. She considered making it, but decided not to. About a year later, she saw a photo of the exact same sculpture that had been made by someone else – after she had her dream. Clearly the sculpture had appeared to one artist after another until someone came through and got it made.

I read that story many years ago. It helped shape the way I worked on the openwork iron bowls I made back in the nineties. I thought of the bowls as already existing on some other plane of existence, just wanting me to manifest them here on earth. It gave a different feel to the working process, and I sometimes used the Progoff Journal “dialogue with the work” process to illuminate my relationship with the bowls. 

I know some things about the painting that appeared to me. It's done in acrylic -- lucky as that's how I've set up the cabin for painting. I'm ready. It's square, larger than I've done before – at least 30 inches square, maybe larger. And I know the colors. (I don't want to say too much, because I've learned from experience that it can slow or even stop the actual work.)

Am I excited? Yes. Afraid? Yes. The painting might give up on me if I don't work steadily and fast enough. It may take quite a few tries before I can do it. Zowee, it's exciting though.