Sometimes Birds Sing
In the Midst of the Full Mooning
Confused perhaps that the Sun’s Not Out
And will still be long in dawning.
But the Birdsong in Middlenight or
Early Morning Silence
Is a welcome brushstroke through
The late night Stillness Dance.
My ears perk UP and
are gently reminded thus:
It is Late for Me to still be
TYPING away the wee hours
of morning especially when
My Sweetie Sleeps restless and
Loving the soft warmth of unbleached titanium white as it mixes with dioxanine purple. I spent so long caught up in the throes of cadmium yellows and oranges, deep pthalo blues that I missed these soft heavenly tones. Now I find them and they seem to whisper to me through their golden dawn hues… eyes lost in the wings of clouds and curving forehead whispening away on some breeze or wind, hands coming undone and eyes- eyes… The purples and UTW combination is heavenly.
At the same time I found some new music that I am loving, an album called 45:33 by LCD Soundsystem. It’s cheesy, funky, crunchy at times, a little disco-ey… just right… it’s fun and I have fun with what I do. Painting, playing, living, loving… We don’t always need to be in the deep midst of techno or the raging guitars and drums or horns or Oms even- chanting or sitars or holy holies…
Hey- my lavalamp just released some gnarly bit of whitish goo into itself as if ejaculating into the blue currents it floats in. I just turned it on and perhaps the heat has caused it to spasm. It sits on the corner of my desk acting as a bookend to: Zig Zag Zen, Buddhism and Psychedlics; Mid-Course Correction by Ray C. Anderson; The Power of Myth by Joseph Cambell; The Dhamapadda; and three design handbooks: The Design Basics Index, Type Idea Index and Color Index all by James Krause. The first few come in handy for inspiration and those last three come in handy as idea fodder for the design and layout of that inspiration.
Everything I do comes down to design and layout: the structure of these words as they tap up against each other, the layout of the objects upon my desk; the countless postcards of great artworks arranged around the giant Kalachakra Mandala on my wall above my desk and how I want it all to reflect back to me; the dissolving figure on the canvas as he fades into the world around himself and how his shape interacts with the arc that circles below him, the three dozen eyes looking outwards from the sky, the clouds and the desert and the pyramid shapes… it is all information arranged in an intuitive manner leading the viewer to a broader and deeper understanding. If it is done right then the entirety of the image actually suggests something larger. If it is done right, then the image speaks of a greater image; it speaks to a deeper view; it doesn’t just suggest: it yells, shouts, exclaims. It doesn’t just exclaim: IT IS.
Likewise, when it comes to layout, if I make a logo for someone, design a website or a postcard and use the same kind of approach, the same visual intuition to consider: what is this trying to say and how shall we say it? With what shapes or colors? What kind of font… what thickness of line… what mood… I know I don’t belittle myself when I say it is all the same in some ways: paintings, web design, logos, etc: it is the presentation of information to convey an idea or mood and express something deeper than any solitary piece of the image can invoke. We could consider it to be Holographic Painting where every piece of the composition is communicating with every other piece at any given time and, in doing so, is speaking of a greater whole.
When driving, one must consider that the slow-ass person who is blocking their path, isn’t actually just being a slow-ass, they are actually driving the speed limit. It is your fast-ass trying to get past them and top the limit by fifteen or twenty miles per hour that ought to consider this. Of course, when you think about it, doing 85 versus 65 is an approximately 24% increase in speed which will get you to your destination in just the same percentage of time less than otherwise. This comes to me as I learn patience on the highway. Following the tail of some little car putzing along in the fast lane where it obviously shouldn’t be but are there only for the fact of wishful thinking or me finding myself in the far right empty slow lane, zooming along with my inner scanner lit and my senses aware of any police radar eyes watching for me, I get to where I am going one way or another.*
But then, when I find myself twisting and turning along mountain roads snaking along steep drop-offs that tumble off the highway a thousand feet or more and are dotted with tall pines with crusty snow at their bases, I try, I TRY!, to slow down a bit, enjoy the scenery, the rising ridges and dipping valleys and then I remember the deadlines, meetings, appointments that all must be gotten to within a day or two of each other, and the music pounding, some kind of funky minimal techno igniting my spirit and the drive goes on…
Up up up into the mountains, down down down into the valleys, steep ravines and canyons, a river rushing below in torrents, occasional waterfalls, no time to stop and enjoy the view, no time to grab a handful of snow and bring it home, maybe broze it for memory’s sake, so I can look at it every now and again, wistfully, misty eyed for a pleasure of life I don’t get a whole lot these days.
Journeys like this are like a video game. There are the puzzle levels, where I have to stop and talk to the king of this land or the medicine man of that one from whom I must learn the secrets of the spine, acquire the important papers, the CDs of information, or the case of wine and the treasure, collect the check and unlock the puzzle, organize the info and be gone in “x” amount of time. Then there are the hand eye coordination levels that are mostly driving twisty mountain roads from point A to point B to point C, and they just get twistier. As time goes on, and I get to other roads, and higher levels more people appear on the roads, the passage gets narrower, the sky gets dark and the level increases in difficulty.
Later I stop at a Panda Express for some food. I hate fast food but if I am going to get something it is usually fish tacos or imitation Chinese food from a big chain since I trust the freshness and cleanliness (or frozen freshness as it were) quite a bit more than the little mom and pop (sorry mom, sorry pop). The burger and fries combo disgusts me so I never go that route, even if my route takes me past them. I would rather go hungry for an hour or two more. But the Panda Express and it’s chow mein and veggies aren’t so bad. Enough time to sit, eat, talk on phone with a business associate, read my fortune (the prize of this level): “All of your hard work will soon pay off”. Right-o, all checks out. Then I am back on the road again to get home safely (the major objective of this game, above any treasures or feats of strength) to the arms of my beloved who waits for me patiently. Tomorrow, with this drive out of the way, I will be immersed again in the world I have created for myself. It’s a pretty good world and I’m consistently trying to make it better, stretch it, push it, find ways to expand it and include more- this echo of my heart, this outgrowth of my being.
Finally, as I pull in the driveway, I arrive at the final level where all I have to do is walk through the door to rescue the princess and there she is waiting for me with a plate of bread and cheese, a few olives, a glass of wine, some candles, smiling so perfectly.
In this not-so-continuing series on “How to be an Artist”, I will share with you now the secret to attaining a perfectly smooth canvas while maintaining just the right amount of texture, which is almost none. This secret isn’t one you will find mixed in with the mystery of the carp eye or anything of the like in Dali’s “50 Secrets of Master Craftsmanship” for it was not a technique available to him at the time. Sure, he had sandpaper, but did he have a DeWalt power sander? I think not.
First, start with your canvas, cut to your desired size. Gesso it with a thick gesso (I’m using Blick Artist’s Acrylic Gesso which has a thick impasto like quality). Make sure your brushstrokes are smooth and even, leaving as few bristle lines as possible. Let it dry. But do not stare at it! It will never dry! For a moment of diversion, please check out the online art piece, “Watching Paint Dry”. If you have had enough of that, stride on over to Zombo.com, where anything is possible.
Now, the next day, after everything that has been attained at Zombocom, after the canvas is dry- we gesso it again!
Let dry 8 – 12 hours.
When it is dry with two THICK coats of gesso, spread it out on the smoothest flattest surface you can find: a single panel, flat door for instance or a piece of masonite, but definitely something totally smooth. If you like, tear a chunk of your wall out, or rip a door off of one of your closets, just make sure it is large enough to tape your canvas to. The smoothness of your surface will affect the condition your canvas. You didn’t have any rocks or pebbles or ANYTHING underneath the canvas while you sand it because if you do, the sander will grind down upon it and cause for a hole to appear. While the hole is patchable (a little tape on the back, a little paint on the front, it is still unsightly so anyway…
Now you take your super duper power sander, makeing certain that it has a nice fine grain paper (not too fine or it won’t do a thing to the canvas, but not too coarse or it will scratch it up) and, with the canvas spread out evenly on your flat surface, without any creases, on the smooth surface, proceed to pass over it, in even yet firm strokes with the sander, which, of course, is switched on.
Back and forth, back and forth, in even strokes… til you have passed over the canvas a couple of times and it feels smooth and soft. A little texture is great because it will pick up the paint but it won’t be the rough canyons that are generally the bane of pre-primed canvas or even gessoed non-sanded canvas.
So you pick up the canvas, dust it off, and marvel at the smoothness.
As an artist you can only hope that people will like what it is that you have created. You suffer with it, hope with it, yearn with it. You arise with it, stare at it as if you were staring in a mirror. You pour yourself into it and you look at it sidelong from across the room and wonder what the hell you were thinking with that color choice; it’s completely wrong. So you change it, adjust it, change hues meticulously, not like Photoshopping out something… You work it, you live it, you pray with it and play with it. Those two aren’t all that different. Only one letter. And then, you let it go, into the public. If you are lucky and you have done your job well: that is, finding your deepest truest emotions, your highest most valuable voice, and expressing that through your work the way a songbird expresses his love in the morning- then people will likely respond with gratitude because we are all very alike and they have felt that too, the yearning, the longing, the connection, the separation, the understanding, the becoming, the enlightenment: they had only been waiting for someone to step up and express it.
…when the sky is clear crisp blue upon awakening form rainy cold gray weekend days and I get a chance to do some yoga before taking Violet to school and she is on time and I don’t have to fight traffic and make every single green light all the way there and all the way home. When I get rid of that giant pile of plastic grocery bags that somehow has been multiplying like rabbit beneath the sink and next thing you know there is a small baby of a stay-puf marshmallow man living under the sink behind that bulkiness which is the garbage disposal and I get my dry-erase board cleaned off and rewritten with all clients, things to do, everything laid all all neatly and my website is about to be uploaded for the umpteenth time with the proper elements all in place and I have shaven and showered and feel all clean after a decent nights sleep… days like today when the garden looks refreshed and the sky feels alive and the trees all blow in the wind like rippling waves on the oceans of breeze… days like today are the days we wish could last forever but it wouldn’t seem so much like a day like today if they came every day.
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