Friday, April 10, 2009

Deep Journey

Deep Journey, 2009

Watercolor on bristol stock, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Okay - this is one I don't like. So, I bet you're wondering why I post it - why don't I just add it to my collage supplies? Well, I think that sometimes some of my most interesting paintings are the ones I don't like. And sometimes I have to push myself way out of my comfort zone to get something I don't like; then again, sometimes they develop that way all on their own.

Once when I gave a slide show talk to a Women Painters West meeting, I included a piece that I just hated. I said just that, as the slide came up. Afterwards several women told me they liked this painting. I was pleased about that; glad I had included it in my slides, glad to have acknowledged my antipathy for it, and glad it had found some friends and supporters.

The fact that they liked it, where I didn't, strengthened a suspicion I already had: that there was something powerful about it that bothered me. I still don't like it, but I do respect it.

Among several other people who like this one quite a lot is my mother. I find this very interesting, even surprising. I would expect her to dislike any risky, unconventional, unsettling painting more than I do, not less. But my mother is sometimes surprising.

What bothers me about this painting? First, a combination of colors I'd call ugly and muddy (the upper ceiling area) with colors that seem insipidly sweet (the aqua and rose), and no good connection, rationale or reconciliation for why these are here together, to my thinking. Second, some awkward shapes and marks.

Most of all, though, I get a very anxious feeling when I look at this, the stomach-dropping sense of being about to be swept into freefall. It looks and feels to me like an underground journey, full of unknown and strange things not yet seen, and some way-too-open space that's beyond the curtain and the narrow gap between ceiling and water. And that curve of the water - I can't help being sent sliding down it; there's no landing spot, and nothing to grab onto. All in all, this arouses a collection of primordial fears: fear of dark places and creepy things, fear of closed spaces, fear of open spaces, fear of falling....

All in all, I get the feeling that this one is effective and rather powerful. I suspect this underground journey could be a valuable one. But I still don't like it.

I hope you enjoy reading about my response and my process, and I'd love to hear about yours. Any comments are welcome - as you might guess, you won't hurt my feelings if you say you don't like it, and I'll respect you no less if you do like it. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Email me if you'd like to buy this painting.

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