digging into method

i continued painting in this vein for a while.

i've learned that a change in technique or style, if it brings a sharp improvement, stabilizes very quickly. i keep with something i like, making very small variations in it, until i wear it out.

the small variations are ways to change things without disrupting the harmony. the way a tightrope walker takes small steps. i was learning to avoid the plateaus by not trying so hard.

the painting of my yard is a continuation of the rose tree pure paint technique, but now there are also passages (the patio concrete, the white table, the sky) where colors were premixed on the palette. all the rest were glazed as pure paints on the page.

this painting was done almost as a whim, it was a radiant saturday morning and i just went outside looking for something to paint. i put on some music i loved, let the cats wander, and stretched into it.

painting had become as comfortable and familiar to me as my yard, part of my emotional territory.

this is a small painting, but it was the first one that i found other people consistently remarked on or said they liked (a woman at work said she thought of stealing it). i couldn't get them to identify what they liked about it, except that two said they felt they could "walk right into" the picture.

it dawned on me how fragile and unpredictable the connections of painting actually are. it didn't seem to work this way:

artist: time for me to paint a powerful [or whatever] picture.
(painting goes according to the artist's plan)
viewer: wow, that sure is a powerful [or whatever] picture!

in my experience it seemed to go something like:

me: mmm, nice day, i gotta paint a picture!
(painting veers from one unintended effect to the next)
viewer: wow, i can walk right into that picture!

i discovered later a quote from j.s. sargent, an artist i revere: painting in watercolor is making the best of an emergency.

it's hard to expect exact effects on a viewer, or sensible "artistic communication," when the vehicle of communication is an accident, an emergency.

art isn't an oratory, it's a kind of tourette's syndrome, an emergency of speech.

the plateau had been a long and frustrating one, so i let myself just enjoy painting in this new approach. no swatches, no technical exercises, just recreation.

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