Wednesday, 18 April 2012

courage to act

It seems to me today that, in a sense, all the problems of being blocked, of not doing the work, of doubting it, and all the rest of it, come down to this simple idea of the courage to act.

Once you're acting, something can happen. As long as you're not acting, there's nothing but your mind, your feeling of discomfort, your self-talk - just the culprits themselves.

For the first time in my life I'm working on a painting that has no accidental effects, no beautiful, nature-created fractals, nothing that can suddenly astound me with the beauty and perfection of material effects, always far beyond anything I could imagine.

Every mark has been made by me. Every mark risks 'messing up' anything about the painting that I've come to like. And at all points I recognise that something in some ways much more profound could have eventuated from leaving the damn thing alone, not fussing into it, not carrying on. There's a huge simplicity there to be explored. But there is also something to be explored in the carrying on that acrylic paint allows; the possibility of layering, of obscuring, of wiping out; a constant process of transformation.

This morning a mucky ochre has muddied much that I liked about the image above. And I carry on. I abandon the notion that I've 'ruined' it, and continue, to see what unexpected and unimaginable thing might yet appear. This time, not by accident of uncontrollable materials. But by some new kind of accident that comes from putting paint on deliberately, while at the same time having no idea what that putting on will do to what is already there. So it is, in fact, as unknown as the other kind of working. But it requires the courage to act.

A few hours after writing this, I went to Jim's blog and found a recent post about ambiguity. What he's talking about there seems to relate to this recent shift of mine to consciously placed marks. It's also rather scarey. Best not to think about the difference between vagueness and ambiguity, for me at least, if I don't want to turn myself to stone.

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