There are infinite possibilities in art. When faced with an empty canvas an artist can be stymied by so many alternatives. It requires a narrowing of focus to hone in on intention, that particular thing you are called upon to express.
One needs set the right environment, speak prayers of supplication to the muse, and open to what nature has to reveal in the exuberant flow of her endless manifestations.
The challenge is to maintain balance, and walk the fine line between conscious intent and receptivity to what arises spontaneously when paint hits canvas and colors bleed in confounding ways.
I take a break from the mental gyrations of painting to work in the garden.
Thatcher Farm is big, with more rows of fertile earth than I can plant. I take an 8 by 16′ bed and divide it according to the square foot gardening technique. I lay it out with sticks and line, and plant seeds so many per square depending on the plant’s requirement for space. I impose an ordered framework, prepare the ground and trust that Mother Gaia can take it from there.
It’s like the layout for my next painting. But here the grid is based on the mystic proportion, the Golden Mean.
It is a major precept of spiritual and artistic disciplines to work like nature. The ancients discovered that the Golden mean is the proportion that comes closest to the original unity from which the diversity of life forms arose. It is this unity to which, in spiritual practice, we aspire to return. The proportion is expressed in plants, shells and seasonal cycles.
I lay out a grid of charcoal lines and, with color studies, narrow the colors to a triad of blue/green, red/violet and yellow/orange.
The sculpture on the Vickers memorial abides by the golden proportion, and its mystic rule sets the measure for creative expansion into the space around her. She is a portion of that spaciousness which is the ultimate nature of reality and she bestows it generously upon the graves of Port Madison’s founders lying at her stone feet. Like a beacon, she radiates light far over the bay.
I recall what my Eastern European sculpture teacher told me: sculpture is, ultimately, about light and space. He talked about how Michelangelo distorted David’s head so it would catch light and project it upward. Maybe it had to do with chakra’s. But I did learn from him that the ultimate end of the sculptor’s work is emptiness.
It is the quality of spaciousness and light she projects that is the theme of my painting, and her expansive energy inspires a harmonious distribution of color and form on the canvas. For, in the end, it comes down to this: to call upon the muse of art (and gardening) to favor us with her bounty and use the brute material of the tangible world to evoke the intangible spirit.