Friday, May 26, 2017

The Labyrinth

One of my favorite parts of our Menucha retreat is walking the labyrinth that is tucked in the woods.  I've walked a few others, but this one is my favorite.  Made of natural stone with little plants sprouting in between, it's quiet and surrounded with greenery.  It's a little breathing space in the middle of all the activity.

Walking it this time, I couldn't help but make the connection to painting.  The purpose in walking the labyrinth is to stay focused on the process with no concern about getting to a final destination.  There is a part at the end of the labyrinth that always amuses me.  You think you are at the very end, and it does another turn back into the path.  It surprises me every time, and it makes me aware that I am thinking about getting to the end.  That's so similar to painting.  As hard as I try to stay in the moment and focus on the process, it seems impossible not to think about getting to a good finished painting.

Then as soon as you resign yourself to walking back out into the path again, the labyrinth does a final twist and you are all at once at the center and done.  When I am moving towards the end of a painting, I sometimes stiffen up.  I start over-polishing and it loses its energy.  At that point I have to do some strong messing up.  Big bold brush strokes or lots of scribbles to get it lively again.  It feels like I'm taking it back to the beginning mess, but just when I think it's never going to turn into a decent painting, it seems to resolve itself and is done.  Lots of twists and turns along the way, and so hard to just focus on the process.

  This painting developed in exactly that way, needing lots of scribbles to give it that final bit of life.  I was playing with more hard edges here on larger paper.  I titled it "Mousetrap" because it reminded me of that favorite childhood game.  Maybe I should have called it "Labyrinth."

"Mousetrap", acrylic on paper, 20"x26"




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