Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Remains of the Day

I don't read with any great speed.  I am prone to filling my schedule with art projects and leaving myself exhausted, trying to muster a little bit more effort to keep working.  Tonight, after nearly a week of dragging my feet, I finished Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day.  The story follows a high class butler reflecting back on his years in service of a dignified  British Lord who fell from favor amongst British subjects due to his ties to German aristocrats. 

It seemed like an important book to read.  I have been left with the impression that I am not unlike this butler.  The man was constantly at work.  So much so, that when it came to the end of the day his head was filled with reflection and not with a sense of relaxation.  I often suffer from this same affliction.  As I was chatting about this with my wife, she suggested that my work is really a source of meditation for me.  I am more relaxed when working than I sometimes am sitting still or attempting to pay attention to a movie.  All I have wanted to be in the past 15 years is a painter.  I have made myself that.  Now that I am teaching instead of working in a restaurant, I feel like there is very little about my life that isn't devoted to the goal of being a successful painter.  While I do lose focus at times, I do think that that has more to do with a lack of understanding of what kind of painter I want to be, where I want to show, how I want to show.  My head runs too many different ways at once.  Perhaps it doesn't though.  I really don't know anymore.

I have spent the last three hours trying to let the remains of the day settle.  It is Saturday.  Today is a day for relaxation and enjoyment, but these things are sometimes confusing to me.  I am fortunate to have a very understanding wife who helps me work through some of the weirdest doldrums.  Painting in miniature has been a great source of comfort for me and I think provides something unique that I have not yet seen from many people. 

I've been asked to show in a group exhibition at Waterfall Arts in December.  I realized that I was going to have to come up with a lot more pieces than I had started.  The beauty of the miniature is that I can view the same spot from a slightly different vantage point and completely change the subject of the work.  I had my studio assistant walk around town with me the other day taking just shy of three hundred photos which I will be working from in the near future.  The city is bigger than I give it credit for.

Here are a few of the drawings which I started using those photos.

 This second image is from the back window of the Time and Temperature building.  I took maybe five photographs from the same vantage point focusing on different areas of the neighboring rooftops.  I'm feeling much better about my ability to find different sorts of shapes.

Ultimately what remains of the day is my goal to be a painter, my love for my wife and son, and the realization that I am human.  My brain must find pause.  I need to create time for said pause even when it doesn't seem necessary.  Only by doing that will I be able to retain focus on my goals.  If I get too lost in the work, too heady in my ideas, then I will lose touch of what it is to push paint.  The act is enough in itself.  It doesn't seem overly necessary to complicate the work.  As I calmly delve into this set of miniatures, I realize that there is more time in the day than I thought and more ways to see than I was willing to accept.