Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission

It's safe to post all the Christmas commissions now. I don't think any giftees were looking at the site, but you never know. Don't want to spoil any surprises!

I really enjoyed this series of Christmas commissions. It was a lot of work to do in a short time, 11 paintings in a couple weeks, but I am often at my best - in painting, writing, speaking, cooking - when I work quickly, in a whirl, without doing a lot of thinking.

I noticed decades ago, working as a reporter, that when I came in from an event and sat down and wrote a story on deadline, handed it off to an editor and walked away, those stories were inevitably the ones that got the most response - and the most positive response - from readers.

The same goes with paintings, I am finding.

The ones that I think about, and mull, the ones I plan and push at, the ones that seem to call for detail and rethinking and redoing, these are the ones people don't buy. They elicit no response on the blog. While I might like them, and value them for a technique I was trying or an idea I was working on, collectors tend not to respond.

I've always believed that when I am doing my best work, I am merely a conduit. "I" vanish. My hands continue to work, to paint or write or cook. My eyes keep working. But my brain seems to go away, and take my hearing with it, along with my sense of my corporeal self.

When I surface, in an hour or two or three, I find that time has gone, too.

The piece I've made - a painting, a story, a dish - is as much a surprise to me as it is to the viewer, the reader, the diner. And so it is a thing of wonder, a thing not of myself, but through myself, a connection with nature, a higher power, God, whatever terminology you'd like to use to describe the thing that is greater than us all.

"Golden" was like this. It's one of the best of the Christmas commissions I made, I think. I started to paint, and then in a while I looked up, and there was this painting, whole, expressive, shining. A little miracle. A golden little miracle.

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