The Artwork of Michael Divine

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Late Night Painting I

March 12th, 2010

I.

3:30 in the morning: one of my favorite times of the day. Or night as it were. Or morning, really. After painting for five or six hours, the lights get turned off and candles are lit. I can only paint for so long. There is not only a law of diminishing returns at this hour but my body begins to ache a bit and I feel I need to save some energy for later. I know, one would think hat” save the energy for later” bit would have come up a couple hours ago. Regardless, one should know one’s limits and be careful to not deplete too much of ones reserves. The ayurvedics and Chinese Medicine doctors and so on all feel I should have been in bed hours ago and my organs and meridians and such will all be out of whack. The creative muse isn’t one to listen to the advice of doctors. The creative muse knows only this: there is a ready and wiling participant and there are magical mysteries to explore. So we explore.

And so, to follow, we have a bit of late night writing time. Late night writing: the ritual is thus: first we put away our paints, wash our brushes brushes, meditate on the painting a bit and find the point we will pick up at next time. Where are we going with it? is it coming together? Does it make perfect sense? If it does then I am pleased with myself. Sometimes I don’t even look at the painting when I’m done. I just turn and walk away. When I look at it again there will be, instead, a sense of exploration. Oh, I might think, that’s interesting, what I did right here. Or, look at this: that was a terrible idea.

Then we pour a glass of wine and prepare some sort of snackishness which usually includes, more or less, some cheese (tonight there is an aged sheep’s milk gouda), a few crackers, some olives or capers, a few anchovies, a bit of sliced tomato, and whatever else might present itself as an option. Those aforementioned doctor-types would have a field day with this one too: one should not eat at 3:30 am, according to the wise. Then all the lights go off, candles on the Bundance™ table are lit and I settle down on to the Crouch™. This little late night idyll is like stepping into another work of art.

The candles illuminate the undersides of the flowers in the vase. Spring flowers picked from here and there and three roses brought by Radhika a few nights past to add some color to the meeting we were all having. The dark rich woods of the crouch and the subtle patterning of the cushions adds a warmth to the white walls and the chill late night air. Sometimes the zebra print side is flipped out tho. It would seem like that might change everything. But it doesn’t.

Outside, the wind whips at the palms and tramples over the rooftops and ducks in and out of drafts and cracks of my house causing the candles to flicker slightly.  My laptop is opened and I allow myself some time to filter out a bit of what went through my mind while painting or at least reflect on what I’ve been creating. These words too are a part of that process. This centering and placing of myself. This noticing of the soft blue text on the dark screen (using a wonderful text program for Macs called WriteRoom) and the backlit keyboard juxtaposed to the warm golden candle glow that flickers and licks light against the underside of an orange calendula blossom. The sounds of the aquarium offer a bit of watery calm in  the face of the chaotic sounds of the wind outside.

The center that I find in all this is very deep and whole and, at the same time, so clear as to seem empty of anything. It is a clear mirror to see myself in, in this post catharsis, in the after-the-illumination, in the charred remains of another lightening strike there is a calm that refrains from picking up the pieces for there are no pieces to pick up. We let go of pieces. It is better to look around and simply take note that there were pieces and seek to understand how they got there in the first place. We let go of a shell. Anoher shell and another shell and another shell.

We have a bite of cheese, a sip of wine, a nibble of anchovy.

We notice the sound of fluid in one ear and wonder if that is a sign of impending health disaster. We – all of us in here – the whole cabal, the whole committee  – we make choices as a whole.

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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