Thursday, January 11, 2007

What makes me paint what I paint? Well, like any other artist, perhaps I want to freeze some special scene, some moment, some awareness of life's fragility - in time and space. I have a good friend who is a musician, and listening to his music reminds me even more of the fragility of life, of our experience, of just how arbitrary our minds are in their ability to seize onto something and remember it or have it make an impression. Even with classical music, which often but not always follows a score, each performance of a piece will be different - the instruments will have a different timbre, the conductor will vary the tempo, the color, the quality of the player, even their mood will affect the piece. So with music, it's played and then it's gone. Even a recording will only capture a certain fragment of that music. Where was I going with that? Probably to say that painting is like trying to capture the moment of our "music" - our life experience - so that we can revisit it. But are we going to step in that same river twice? Probably not. Each viewing, each session of painting will bring something new to us, or at least I hope so...

If I had unlimited time to catch each wave of inspiration I would paint all day - but I can't. I have to pay the rent, see that my son has health insurance, clothes, and food and the other things he still needs from me, few tho they be... So I've had to focus my efforts on what makes my heart sing - and that's orchids. I have painted portraits, and still lifes - would someday like to paint landscapes but they're daunting - and for the past several years orchids still call me by name. Hopefully by painting our native orchids I can help promote the conservation of the natural areas they live in, so they can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come... Like that music, we try to catch on to it and hold it in our hearts but it's gone as soon as the sound fades. And I am very afraid that orchids will do the same thing - global warming has changed the natural landscape, drying out many areas where orchids thrived, inundating others. And real estate development has created sprawl into the last few areas where orchids still exist - forests, wetlands, prairies. So I'm trying to paint them because I'm so afraid we're going to lose them all. And that would make me unspeakably sad if that happened, wouldn't it?

I have to tell you, the recollection, the painting, is no substitute for the real thing. Get outside. Get up close and personal with a flower sometime - even a dandelion. Drink it in. Sink into its beauty. Care.

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