L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pale pink

There are just some things that I think pointless to paint. Futile. Right now, we have a vase of pale pink peonies on the coffee table (if you could call it that) in the living room (if you could call it that). They are amazing objects - almost animals, they're so vigorous and dancing. Shaded rose-pink-white, butter-white, shell-like rose, they look like they've exploded. Quietly, gently exploded. Every irregular little petal - of what looks like hundreds - is an individual. Turning, bending, striving in its own direction. It's as if each one communicates - hisses, shouts, whistles, coos - with all the others. There's a madcap neighborhood in each ridiculously glamorous blossom.

If you have a very exacting technique as a painter - mine is reasonably exacting - if you are able to describe each petal, each transition and mutation of color, if you are able to show the navigation of light through the endless translucent layers, capture the light reflected around and within - if you can do all these things, is it anything like the actual flower? If you have a more impressionistic technique, if you can insinuate yourself into the "moment" of that peony, can capture something of the air about it and, again, the light that attacks and caresses it, is it anything like the actual flower? If you have any sort of technique, any sort of skill, if you are able to create something truly beautiful from your observation of a pale pink peony, is it anything like the actual flower? No. Never.

The miracle of most living things is impossible to really even comprehend. To really look at something - like those peonies - to let in something of that incomprehensibility, is probably the farthest we can reach toward capturing anything of its essence. For that alone I'm so incredibly grateful. And those genuinely precious moments are enough. Blessedly enough.

If you want to paint that flower, that tree, that ocean - because it excites you, challenges you, because you want to better your skills - do it, of course. Why not? But for me, being an artist never crosses over into any real desire to try and "capture" anything, to somehow replicate the essence of something. Certainly not something of nature, something so much smarter and richer and full of creation than I believe humans are capable of understanding. I paint paintings of paintings. I'm grateful and happy within my limitations. To be able to look at a pale pink peony is enough for me.

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