"Ideally a painter (and, generally, an artist) should not become conscious of his insights: without taking the detour through his reflective processes, and incomprehensibly to himself, all his progress should enter so swiftly into the work that is unable to recognize them in the moment of transition." ~Rainer Maria Rilke
"Self In Progress", oil on canvas, 20"x16", carries two meanings. Yes, the metaphor is obvious but also, there is a more literal meaning here. The painting which stands behind me is "The Side Door", which I will blog about in a few days. I painted "Self In Progress" while working on "The Side Door" and thought that it might provide a nice backdrop to another self-portrait.
Rilke is on to something. There is something to be said for editing your thoughts and inspirations for paintings. Personally, I hold firmly to the tenet that knowing what NOT to paint, is just as important as knowing what TO paint. I would rather have 5 very strong paintings compared to 20 mediocre ones. Try to make each painting the best it can be. Use your best skills of critical analysis to glean the most compelling ideas to translate into your craft. The flip side is that if you shoot for mediocrity in life and your art that is precisely what you will get.
The concept of human beings as works in progress is nothing new. Fundamentally it is the human condition. It is how we choose to get from point A to point B in life before we shuffle off this mortal coil. To know oneself prepares you to know the world. However, exploring the world and the amazing creatures and people who inhabit it enables us to also formulate our own concept of self and individuality. They are inextricably bound; fluid, organic and constantly in flux. Wouldn't life be boring if it were not so?
This painting was challenging in that there were some very intense blues that I had to render. I love painting white and black because they are the farthest thing from monochromatic....they possess every colour...they are chameleons, they keep you guessing and surprise you with what hues you can discover when looking at them.
If I appear to be pensive it is because the painting behind me was taking a long time. It was a struggle and I wanted to stretch my wings with something that compelled me yet also tied back in with the larger painting behind me.
The other day I was visiting my friend Gayle who is a framer. She lives in the house from the painting "The Side Door" and when I walked into her framing studio there was "Work In Progress" hanging on the wall, preparing to be framed. The painting had sold last year but now was going to have its own frame and the feeling that washed over me when I saw it was palpable. It was like greeting a friend that you never thought you would see again. My reaction surprised me.
"Work In Progress" was painted during a time of anxiety, struggle, but always there existed the need to create. To be facing challenges in life and yet have to continue to create paintings is difficult, I won't mince words about that. Yet we must go on. I do. I must. This painting and the rest of my work is really, a visual record of a life that just happens to be mine. I feel great affection for these paintings and for the people who share a portion of their lives with me. They make the world rich beyond measure and I treasure them dearly.
"Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on." ~Samuel Beckett