From the trails that ran along to the edge of the continent, I looked out over the Pacific Ocean and experienced a blissed-out happiness. Closer to the edge, radically eroded cliffs invited one false step. I felt exhilarated, terrified, and alive.
Art making repeatedly asked me to step into the unknown, to risk, as Paul Simon suggested, “slip slidin’ away” to get “nearer your destination.” And because I believed that art would show me the way, I stepped up to the task.
But as with any discipline, it wasn’t always easy to maintain. After painting for many years, my analytical mind got tired of waiting for art to show me the way, and with a certain distain for slow time, pressed me to work harder, produce more, and get ahead. It steam-rolled my artist at a time when I felt world weary and burdened. I shut down. In that state and for months on end, I made art as if nobody was in charge.
When I finally woke up as from a long sleep, my paintings appeared to have painted themselves. Together, they looked like a solid body of work, consistent with previous endeavors, but more evolved and cohesive. I saw them with new eyes, and they felt primordial, set apart, and mysterious (See A Primordial Place.)
The meanings inherent in the paintings constituted one mystery, but how they came into being pointed to another. For example, what happened when I went missing? Where was my commander in chief – the all-important I? No logical explanation worked. But from my perspective it looked like art had shown me the way and sailed the ship.
It was reassuring and life affirming to know that all I had to do was suit up and show up — that I had a built-in system that knew what to do … next.