My lenten practice has so far been about simplification, getting back to basics, and play. Some of the greatest hindrances in art-making for me are related to fear. I'm afraid someone won't "get it." I'm afraid someone else's work is "better." So much of the emotional labor comes from fighting those fears. "Just make the thing..." I will say to myself, "stop worrying about 'someone'."
Likewise, there's the time. By the end of the day when I work on these pieces I'm typically ready to kick back and do nothing (okay, maybe watch a movie or Big Bang Theory re-runs). So the hard work becomes real when facing the desire to do nothing.
Like many artists, work arises from an experience or from something we read. If folks have paid any attention to this blog and the pieces, you may notice some common themes. Some of them have been from biblical texts. In fact, the "wings" series is from Exodus 19:4 when YHWH's says "I bore you on eagle's wings, and brought you to me." The redemptive acts performed by the God of the Hebrews is given this vivid imagery.
What the viewer won't see in these "wings" pieces is that they're all parts of a larger whole painting begun this summer on a very large (approx. 8' x 3') paper. As I looked to crop and rework the larger watercolor drawing, I decided to take about 1/3 of the larger piece and actually use it (it's currently hanging at St. John's Episcopal here in Grand Haven) and then tear off sections into small pieces varying in size. One of my favorites is meager wings (see to the left of this post) which is now only 3" x 3". Part of the very large piece was painted with a feather I had found a number of years ago and so in some of the work you can see the hint of a pattern made my that feather. As I contemplated the "eagle's wings" theme, it occurred to me that the "wing" I was painting with was very small. This to me symbolizes my own meager efforts to know God.
This process has also been simple play. I'm using colors I don't normally think of using. I'm working on black paper which has provided a fresh quality to the normal white surface (although I'm not sure if I'll have enough black to finish the series, so we will see). And so play becomes a subversive and generative act. Play is a subversive act because it upends any pretentious notions I may bring to the piece. And yet play does not simply deconstruct, it is in and of itself beautiful while producing something of beauty.