The Unity of Dread and Bliss II
Today I approached a big canvas. Significant is that over the past year I’ve found myself celebrating big accomplishments or decisions with a big canvas. As if all the dread and bliss associated with the big events of my life gets bottled up and awaits the time when I can relieve myself of it all in my work–in a big way. Coming through to the other side is how I felt this morning before I set to work. Feeling a sense of accomplishment in completing a major project, keeping it together through a bucketload of travails, including my husband’s father dying last weekend, watching a life plan get shattered and finding ways to pick up the pieces and all in all, just feeling ever so grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given and the great loves I have. Storms have an energy that is both fearful and exciting–and really, that’s life in a nutshell. To experience it all and challenge ourselves means facing the anxiety head on. Many sleepless nights precipitated the event that precipitated this painting. I feel a bit invincible–mainly due to the remaining adrenaline in my system.
The person who has not, in a moment of firm resolve, accepted–yes, even rejoiced in–what has struck him with terror–he has never taken possession of the full, ineffable power of our existence. He withdraws to the edge; when things play out, he will be neither alive nor dead.
Previously in this blog I talked about how the painting Nimbus Grey was conceived and created on the day that I decided to give up the role of gallerist (which also coincided with having just spent months painting sky studies). Last month I was again telling the story of the significance to me of the beautiful fir stretcher bars that back this painting. These were handmade for my artist friend Jane Hamilton Hovde by her husband AJ Hovde over 30 years ago–and then gifted to me. For many years my young children and I had delivered library books to Jane’s home. She shared with us over tea all her wonderful tales of the artistic life she led, all while surrounded by her fantastic paintings and view of Samish Bay. You can read a bit about Jane and AJ’s most exciting life here, including friendships with Jack Shadbolt, Mark Tobey and W.H. Auden. Ironically, opening the gallery and other obligations had prevented me from visiting Jane for some time. All in all, I had been quite intimidated to approach this canvas given its history and personal connection, but opportunity and intent met preparation–finally.