I have tried again and again to keep a diary, but the self-centered repetitions and petty quarrels I found myself trying to make into comedy read like belly button lint. My definition of belly button lint? The sort of meanders that no one but the author really cares to examine. If you keep a daily record of your life, you really need famous names dropping by, or better yet, a good dose of laughter, and giggles. Comedy is the hardest thing to write. The whole effort depressed me each time, until I stopped.
I find that this blog serves many of the better purposes of a diary. More fluid, more adaptable to what I’m thinking about, not the chance trivia I used to faithfully pen out to fill the page.
So what am I doing now that’s possibly interesting?
I’m working on a seven foot by three foot canvas stretched over board, out in the carport. Why the carport? It’s got great natural lighting and has the advantage that I can step back far enough to see what I’m doing. I have a handy bunch of twigs and leaves as references, right before me, and stones in the yard to take my bearings by. I began five days ago. First the stretching of the canvas over a doorskin glued and squared and cradled with cross supports and an under frame. Then five layers of gesso, sanding required between each layer and its successor, with a final sanding to make a skin texture that will take the oils well. Then the sketch in chalk, nothing detailed but a loose gesture taken from my first sketches. Next the real work of laying down paint, rich oils, shadows of Indanthrone blue and Napthamide Maroon, sun splotches of Hansa Yellow and Titanium White, touches of Indian Yellow. Working in to these, Sap Green, Blue-Violet, Quinacridone Gold, and Quinacridone Rose.
It’s the 27th now, and I have finished the big painting, at least for now. I may go back in and glaze some leaves in the foreground and soften the edge on a tree trunk, but I believe the essence of the thing is done. It’s not one of my hills paintings, instead it is of a place I walked with the daughter about two weeks ago, a location called the ‘Lizard’s Mouth’. A park area full of tumbled boulders and scrubby brush, with a few oaks scattered about. I chose a small intimate view that shows several sun and shadow dappled rocks with the shade of oaks, their trunks streaked with sun. I like the feeling that one could walk into the painting, and I think I captured that. How different from some of my bright big landscapes, this one is. I don’t like to play it safe, and this wasn’t safe. I present to you, above, the painting as it was two days ago just before my last push, with not everything defined, but all of the promise just around the corner.