Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Play is Serious (part one): Chad

One of the big revelations that has been provided to me by parenthood is simply this: play is serious business.  And it bears a fair resemblance to the artistic process, which might lead you to conclude (depending on how you feel about children and/or artists) that a) all children are artists, or b) all artists are children.  Maybe both are true.  When I paint, I feel the same transcendent, focused joy that led me to spend hours creating apartments for mice out of snow drifts, or piling up rocks in a stream to make waterfalls.  The goals and objects of play, while real, are always ephemeral.  So is art.  And the best things happen when you realize that you chose only one of infinite options, that your solution is only a place holder for the next creative act.  

Which brings me to Chad.  Chad stands about 2 inches high, wears a casual (if slightly emo) outfit, and his hands are locked in a steering wheel grip so that he can drive his yellow-orange adventure vehicle. 
Despite his diminutive size and lack of physical mobility, Chad has led an astonishingly adventuresome life since coming to live with David about 2 years back.  Among other things, he has survived being swallowed whole by an enormous Komodo dragon, worked for a time driving a John Deere tractor, and dallied in Cinderella's coach.  
He has flown through the air repeatedly without the aid of even a parachute; has suffered attack by dinosaurs on many occasions; has been buried alive in the wilderness of the backyard. And through it all his face has worn the same blank look that suggests a kind of calm readiness. 
Right now, he's thoroughly wrapped in pink yarn.  That right: Chad has been mummified.  Will he survive?  Will he walk the earth in search of victims?  Will he lay an eternal curse upon all our heads?  Only David knows for sure, and he's not telling.  To my eye, he's the perfect little art object.  A thousand or so more, and I'd have a great installation...all I need now is a title.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Long Time Gone

Going away from a painting feels a bit like leaving your cat at home for a couple days with a heaping bowl of food and plenty of water.  You know the cat will be okay, but you also feel the guilt of the neglectful caretaker.  While you're away, you won't be loving it enough.  There will be no one to rub it behind the ears!  A painting can't purr, but it does suffer from being unconsidered.  Paintings, after all, thrive on attention.  But I'm back now, and trying to make up for lost time.
Like any neglected relationship, my affair with my painting needed a little spark, which came in the form of a new brush that defies adequate description.  Try as I might, I can't articulate a metaphor potent enough to contain all the wonders of the Daniel Smith Faux Mongoose #14 Flat, which I will hereafter refer to only as "the Goose".  (Okay, I know I just lost about 75% of my readership, and for that I apologize.  I only hope you'll visit this site again; I promise I'll try not to bore you to tears.)  The Goose was a big surprise to me, as I usually don't use synthetic brushes.  I'm a purist.  Sable, bristle, even fitch.  But I found myself, one day, cruising the DS website in search of something new.  What the heck, I thought, I'll give it a try.

Well.  Like I said, the Goose defies description except to say that it is one luscious brush.  It's got bounce.  Loaded up with color, it goes for miles and miles.  I can build up thick strokes; I can layer wet on wet; I can scrub, dab, and glaze.  And it all feels effortless, like I'm painting with Devonshire cream.  

So my painting and I are feeling that old spark again.  We can see our future together, thanks to the Goose.