on a roll

After a nice summer of some travel and some leisure, I got back home and hit the ground running. Get my mom moved into a new place. Get the stained glass window factory cranked back up. Fix the things around the house. Paint the bedroom. Find a routine.

Today it’s all clicking and ticking. I just installed my third stained glass window after my summer slow down. I have a new one drawn and half cut out. While it could easily still take into 2017 to finish the project, it’s easier now to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It truly has been a tunnel because it isn’t very often I start a project I know will take me a very long time. I projected it would take a year to do the stained glass project and it will more likely be 1.5 years. That’s a big project. Big because I work all the time on it. I put in 25+ hours on it most weeks I suspect. I’d say an average of 4 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s important to me and it’s also fun. I love watching the vision come into focus.

I’m also trying to get on the paintings. Every year for over 20 years I have a show of new paintings. This year will be no different but I was pretty far behind on my paintings.  I would say I “usually”  do 12-20 paintings per year but the stained glass project stalled out the paintings to where I only had 3 after the busy summer of fun but I’ve made time to do 2 more and now working on a new one which will bring this years total to 6 by the end of this month I suspect. It’s not that the number of paintings really matters, but what does matter is that I can have a show of my new paintings and the walls don’t look bare. Nobody would really care but me but I care an awful lot. I would like to have 8 and it seems that may be possible at this stage.

However, the paintings/ collage this year are not that great. I am usually very excited about my work and even when I know the viewers won’t know or care they are excellent, I am pleased with myself for the quality of work. This year is quite different. I have been unhappy with each piece, although they look fine they just don’t make me excited. I have not been “inspired” to make another after each one I finish that is… meh.  Maybe because my heart is more in the stained glass right now, or maybe it’s the constraint I have given myself of working in symmetry, but I feel like I was in a rut…. until tonight.

And really that is the whole reason I came here to write. I was thinking to write about the challenge and excitement of my new painting but then I thought maybe I should go in the yard and record. I could easily talk for 10 minutes and make a new podcast about the challenge of this new simple painting and the good feeling of being on a roll, in the groove and with fizzy kombucha again.

But I figured it’d be sorta boring either way and writing is more acceptable boring than audio so I went with this. So 2 things that have me most excited and then off to my new pillow.

1. early in my painting days, in my 20’s, I would once in a while do a painting in 2 colors that was more like a drawing painting almost. I would use 2 colors very similar in tone (usually orange and brown) and paint weird things that seemed to disappear at dusk or dawn. This disappearance was like the best magic to me. I could look at a painting  and watch it slowly vanish as the sun set and not appear again until the sun hit the horizon. These paintings were so strange and most people would never see anything interesting in them, and most people would not get excited that they could vanish like that. So what?

But I don’t paint them for others but for myself and I have never lost my excitement over this phenomenon. The favorite painting I ever did is called Dusk Dawn and is 2 paintings in one and is 2 colors. I painted it in 1999.   It does not disappear so much because the orange is brighter and the brown is darker. But just the two colors makes me love it in a way that is hard to explain here near midnight when I have already said too much. Sometimes I say “I should do a 2 color painting” and then I start to but soon add a third color because it is so easy and I forget the challenge and reward a 2 color painting brings me. So in my funk of not being pleased with my paintings this year I decided to do a 2 color one. I started yesterday and worked on it for hours. It looked like crap. I was not sure it could ever look good but I kept working on it. Tonight I worked a couple more hours and it’s a struggle. It’s hard to just switch between the 2 colors and find a way to make something worth looking at. But I hit that place tonight where even through the challenge it was fun. I started to see that it kept calling me back and I can even sortof see it when I’m not looking at it. I think about it when I’m not painting it. That’s probably the sign of a good book and definitely the sign of a “good” painting, whatever that means.

So I cannot say it will be good when it’s done but it has excited me about a painting for the first time this year which is a rare and sad thing to say because usually I just live for painting all the time. It carries me week to week. I think about them and enjoy showing them off a little and photographing them and finding homes for them. This has been an off year but honestly even the paintings I don’t like end up having a fine life and often look better with time. A friend has one hanging in his house that I hated and I saw it yesterday and it looked beautiful. How did that happen?

And #2. And I really need to wind this up. Much too longwinded tonight… My kombucha. I was ready to give up making it because it has not been fizzy since early 2016 when I had let it go too long and it was taken over by fruit flies and I had to start over. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong and right before giving up I figured it out. I had been letting it ferment for too long and thus a second fermentation was not allowing it to carbonate. I don’t entirely understand it but when I changed the ferment from one month to 2 weeks the stuff started getting fizzy again and finally tastes amazing. Oh it’s a relief because I really do love the stuff I am drinking tonight compared to hating the stuff I was making last month. It’s like it’s all coming together man. I can have fizzy as hell satch sour soda while I struggle and enjoy painting my mesmerizing 2 color symmetrical mandala. The struggle is a pleasant sort in which I feel progress and see solutions. Painting is simply a problem solving endeavor after all. Problem solving at its most elegant. And 2 colors?  Simple, elegant problem solving and really hard also.  It’s not something I should try and explain. It’s just my strange secret world.



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