Tuesday, January 31, 2012


We’re having a staring contest, me and this big blank canvas. And I’m sorry to say the canvas is winning. Its whiteness is mocking me, mocking my inability to do anything besides sit here and lose a staring contest. With an inanimate object. 

I twirl the brush between my fingers. I run the back of my hand along the paint jar. I question the need to add just a speck more yellow cadmium, light. 

My palette is set. My brushes are in neat rows, organized by size. The palette knife is closest to me, because I never know when I’ll need it. 

I have pre-mixed almost a dozen colors. Shades ranging from deep, forbidding red to a light, airy blue. I worked for hours to get them the perfect shade, the perfect consistency. My movements were careful and thought out; there was never a stray movement or exuberant gesture.

This is how I paint. This is how I create. My canvases are covered by neat lines and rows, everything in its place. 

I have mastered the art of free handing a line. Not a shake or squiggle to be seen. That was the plan for this project as well. Just another in a long series of geometric designs, all intended for a show, at some point down the road.

For now, they just sit, leaning against the studio wall, inactive. They are waiting for me to take the first steps.

Transfixed by the blank stretch of canvas before me, I pick up my brush. Without thinking, without pausing to consider, I dip the wide, inch and a half brush into the open jar of violently bright green, and throw it against the canvas.

The whole brush leaves my hand, propelled by an intensity I didn’t know I possessed. The tip, full of paint, hits first, and splatters green all over me. The brush then goes flying off in a diagonal direction, heading straight for my pristine rug. 

Somehow, I don’t care.

I don’t care that the rug is ruined, that my face and hair are splattered, and that my canvas is no longer pristine. 

I just don’t care.

The splotch has broken the staring contest, putting me firmly in control. 

Inspired, I pick up my largest palette knife, scoop up the beautiful sky blue, and smack it onto the surface. Next to the loud green, it makes quite the contrast. More subtle and relaxed, it calms the splotch down. 

Intrigued, I drag the knife from the middle of the blue into the green, creating a wonderful mix of color. I stop myself before I get carried away, and lose the sharp contrast between the two colors. As my teacher always used to say, “Half of being an artist is knowing when to stop”. 

I pause, considering the mess I’ve made. With a grin on my face large enough to peel the splattered paint away from my cheeks, I reach for a clean brush. 

Next up: orange.


This is what came out when I was trying to write creative non-fiction .


Unknown said...

i love it

it makes me want to run out to the nearest art supply store and spend way too much money

JW Moxie said...

This works. I felt your frustration, your triumph, and your spark of inspiration - both about the painting and the creative non-fiction exercise.

Loved this.