Some people see decisions in it, results of battling intelligences that drive it one way or another, positively or negatively, in a terminal struggle for control. But I see it as a respiration of happy accidents served in balanced doses of pleasure and pain, not ending in a hoax of finality, but continuing on in cycles, like breathing forever.
Life. It’s so cool.
And before you judge that last line as an example of naive idealism, or a symptom of recent fortune, know this — my enthusiasm for life doesn’t come from a comfortable and smooth ride; it comes from being challenged by obstacles and misfortune. I find more excitement and beauty in the bumpy ride of a jalopy over a rocky road than I do the smooth, droning hum of perfectly inflated tires on a freeway.
Generally, I gravitate toward a universal dynamic that incubates accidents. I’m pitifully disorganized, I consistently procrastinate, and I often rely on spontaneous audacity rather than well-planned implementation. But the result doesn’t really matter. Regardless of the outcome, I count myself lucky simply by being able to appreciate the fragility of success and the education of failure.
And so it goes with painting.
I was down to the last of my large sheets of plexiglass. If it were summer I would set it on the side driveway and start splatting colors, no doubt turning it into something that would inspire me to write something I thought was inspiring. But the outside temperature is below freezing, it grows darker every day, and it’s snowing. Inspiration has to come from somewhere else when the world is acting depressed.
Knowing that I was getting to the end of my plexiglass, last week I purchased some framed pictures from a local Goodwill thrift store, hoping to replenish my supply of reclaimed acrylic painting surfaces and secure them ready with their own frames as well. I felt a little guilty about my plan to ruin one of the pictures I bought — a lovely framed photograph of a group of children in various postures of cuteness — but I realized the guilt was just some residual brain dust and wasn’t the kind to heed as I quickly ripped the cute baby photo out and threw it in the trash. Sorry babies, I have no time for such sentimentality. I need something to paint on. You’ll understand when you’re older.
To my surprise, the picture didn’t have the acrylic sheet cover I was expecting. It had glass. I’ve never painted on glass.
Eager to start my first piece of the winter, I didn’t bother to get the wood-burning stove going. My studio space in the garage was a brisk 50 degrees fahrenheit. If I was going to attempt a painting on glass, I was going to be breathing like a dragon.
Like my other pieces, I had a hint of an idea, but let it expose itself through chance and intuition. I soon noticed that the paint wasn’t holding to the glass, that my designs were being gutted and ripped by the designs I painted over them. I could see it happening with each new design, mangling, if not destroying, the one beneath it.
Was it the cold? Was it the glass? What could I do? Start again? Try to wash off what I’d already done? Try to make it something I was comfortable with?
Who in the hell was I fooling? I’m not a “start over” kind of guy. I’m a jumper!
Fuck the parachute.
I kept falling through the cold winter and the brittle glass. The painting below is where I landed.
Fragile and educational.