I haven’t painted in two years. But I recently rewrote a couple old memoirs as a poem about painting, and it felt like time to take some pretty colors and make a big splashy mess in the kitchen again. The blank canvases in my office aren’t going to paint themselves, after all. The working title for the painting-in-progress is The Legend of the Frozen Coast, partially in tribute to the Frozen Coast painting I sold on Craigslist a few years back.
I don’t know what other painters think about when they paint, but I have been imagining The Legend of the Frozen Coast as a pirate adventure story starring Meteor Mags’ great-grandmother and read on a radio program. Explore Nordic debauchery in the icy wastelands! Witness the fate of a ferocious kraken frozen in a glacier for 10,000 years! Set fire to a fleet of brigands and mercenaries! Throw in some insults and salty language from The Pirate Primer that arrived this week, and the tale almost writes itself.
A storm hammers the forest.
The wind rips down his tent.
He can’t make any sense of it in the dark.
The painter drags his sleeping bag to a rock ledge.
It gives no shelter but is clear of the trees.
Electricity tears the sky to shreds.
The rain carries out its assault
not in drops but one continuous torrent.
He huddles in the soaked bag for nine hours,
powerless and small.
Stillness, yet never-ending motion.
The calm shadows of trees on a lake
draw lace stockings on a nightmare.
The struggle for life rages below the surface.
A bee caresses a flower intimately.
He cares nothing for the coming storm.
He is within her and she is within him.
They are one and the same.
Step away from industry. Obliterate
the underlying colors and textures
even when they persist. Use an avalanche.
Give them landslides. Drench them in
thunderstorms of black and broken skies
until they recede. The painter and the canvas
are the cyclone and the shore.
You don’t need to paint this canvas at all.
Do what comes naturally. The painting
will take care of itself.
Sometimes you have those dreams where everything feels perfect. As a tribute to the numerous dreams we’ve had flipping through boxes of never-published comic books, the colors and textures of Dream Journal Nine contain vintage comic books in their depths.
This little 8×10 canvas has been a companion in the painting studio for two years, the object of many small-scale experiments we would later apply to larger canvases. It was once a light-hearted collage called “Perfect! The Master Will be Well Pleased!”
We’ve had much time to consider the idea of perfection, and we have a new perspective on it now. Perfection is a process, not a static state. Perfection is a verb, not a noun. Perfection is how we shape the world ever closer to an ideal we have in our minds. In reality, nothing is ever truly perfect, but that should not disappoint us too much. We are not trying to attain a state of perfection; we work to perfect our less-than-ideal world and make it more ideal.
On the flip side, you have imperfection. The crackled textures of Dream Journal Nine suggests cracks and imperfections. In dreams, the imperfections sometimes alert the dreamer that yes, this is a dream. You notice something that doesn’t seem quite right. And when you pause to think about it, it becomes clear you are dreaming. The imperfections of the dream world make perfect signposts on the road to lucid dreaming and greater awareness in the dream.
Dream Journal Nine could just as easily bear the title Imperfection, for perfection and imperfection form two sides of the same coin, two halves of the same whole.
We recently published three years of dreams from our dream journals in a 148-page paperback, and also Kindle format, called Three Years Dreaming.
This week’s edition of Sketchbook Sundays is all about works in progress. Between cranking out research papers at the end of the semester and a sudden influx of writing, editing, and book design gigs, some of our art projects have just had to get set aside for a bit. So, here’s what we have in progress here at our little outpost on the martian frontier.
Above, this new drawing of Meteor Mags is coming along nicely, but we need a background. Yes, we should probably plan backgrounds first, but we get caught up in inking gasmasks and stockings and then kind of fill in the details later.
Below, our seahorse painting awaits a final phase of rendering and highlighting. Considering that the next Mags story features a seahorse, it might be time to wrap this one up soon.
Below, our first attempt at painting Mags dancing has proven challenging but fun to work on. She needs her star and anarchy tattoos completed, at the very least, plus some attention to lighting and shadow. And who knows, we might put in some sea creatures before calling it done.
All that, plus we’ve plotted out the next Mags story but haven’t had the mental space to write the dang thing yet. We really thought our break between semesters would be mostly down time, but this has not been the case. Can’t complain though – it’s nice to have the work! Perhaps after this coming week gives us a chance to wrap things up in the business world, we can dive back in and get lost in some artwork.
Keep on sketching!
We sold two paintings today. We had our doubts that anything would ever sell due to a Craigslist ad, but we were happily proven wrong.
Guitar #20: Frozen Coast caught an art lover’s eye on Craigslist. While she was here, she took a liking to Dream Journal #8: Night at the Lake. Good choice! We are very fond of that one, and miss it already.
The business coach we’ve worked for the past seven years often reminds us to take time to celebrate our successes. This carries a special importance when you work independently. After all, a sole proprietor works without any sort of company hierarchy to hand out employee-of-the-month awards, bonuses, or other forms of recognition. Artists working independently face the same challenge.
Plus, you can easily focus on all the things that haven’t yet worked out the way you hoped. If you try ten different things and one succeeds wildly, you might be too caught up in your nine other failures to really appreciate it. It takes a certain mental fortitude to keep moving forward, and celebrating your successes plays an important role in that.
Last week, we had a wonderful chat with a local business owner referred to us to discuss some potential ways we could work together. We mentioned, somewhat dejectedly, that we had only sold about five pieces of artwork since we began seriously attempting it last fall. She said it was funny we viewed it negatively, since she found that number quite impressive.
That made us pause and remember to celebrate our successes. So, we hope you don’t mind if we take a moment to review what pieces have sold in the last nine months. On a side note, our little poetry book has been selling a couple of copies each month, mostly overseas. Though that isn’t a phenomenal sales figure, it certainly does make us happy that the collection is getting out there.
Let’s have a look at what we’ve sold so far.
Behold the Awesomizer sold in February 2014 through eBay to a buyer in the USA.
Guitar #20: Frozen Coast
Acrylic paint, varnish, and texture media on gallery-wrapped canvas
24 x 30 in. (60.9 x 76.2 cm)
Colors: Prussian blue, anthraquinone blue, deep permanent green, white, black.
This painting is
currently for sale on eBay SOLD.
At 24×30 inches, Guitar #20 is the same size as Guitar #8. We enjoy working at this size, even though building up the layers of color and texture on something this size takes approximately forever.
Below we have a bunch of close-ups that show just how textured this piece is. The last half-dozen or so pics illustrate its long journey from blank canvas to colorfully tactile art. Enjoy!