Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beauty and the world

Howard Creek Ranch: Carriage House. 20"x16". Oil on linen panel
A day later than promised, but the blog returns from its vacation (somewhat later than its author). The picture on the right is the rough  preliminary photo of a plein air study done there, at Howard Creek Ranch. As a matter of fact, it's a portrait of the room we've been staying at: the wooden door on the ground floor leads right to our room, and the two pale yellow spots to its left are two lounge chairs where we enjoyed the sun and the view.  


I will delay the studio news post for a little bit – since I anticipate there will be quite a lot of them. I went to this week-long vacation with a few essential questions in mind; quite fundamental to me in terms of what and how I am going to do next. I didn't expect to get answers there – rather, to clear my head, to let the wind, and the sun, and the ocean swipe away all the noise and free the space for these answers to come to. 


However, one answer did come right there; actually, right in the process of painting the landscape above. I have recently discussed with several people the importance of being clear (to yourself, at least) about why exactly you do what you do; and in the course of these discussions I understood that my own answer to this question wasn't quite clear to me. Not that there was no answer at all, but it wasn't crisp and explicit enough, not ready to be put into words and examined in the harsh light of consciousness. 


There is a kind of answer to the "why" question, quite common among artists, and painters especially, which boils down in effect to "for myself" (although there are usually more words said to express it). And there is a lot of truth to it, but it cannot be the final answer, at least not if one's work is work (and not a hobby or a sort of meditation practice). My answer lingered somewhere behind my personal version of "for myself" (which sounds, by the way, something like "to stay genuinely alive"), but didn't show itself clearly until this day on Mendocino Coast. 


When it did, it came in the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky: because it turned out that, when all is said and done, I believe that beauty will save the world. Not prettiness or fashionable elegance, but strong, powerful, authentic beauty, which is everywhere, ready to be seen but too often unnoticed. 


So this is why I do what I do; that's why hier stehe ich, und kann nicht anders


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