Monday, October 22, 2012

So is it not with me as with that muse

Sonnet 21. So is it not with me as with that muse. 20"x20". O/c.
Why don't I confine myself to direct still life painting, maybe with occasional foray into plein air for a breath of fresh air and the smell of ocean?
 
Over the last week, this question kept presenting itself to my mind, again, and again, and again. Why don't I make it into my craft, my trade, my way of life? 

I am not bad at it, and could probably become better if I focused on it. I not only love doing it, I am probably addicted to it: I have to return to direct studies from life several times a week; otherwise, I begin to feel exhausted and dull sooner rather than later. I am addicted to the heightened awareness that comes from these studies,  attention focusing on each turn of form and each nuance of light and color and taming my brushstrokes to simplicity of everyday beauty. By no means I would consider it a  "lower" genre of painting (quite the contrary, as a matter of fact), so it's not like my ego is getting in the way of my happiness, at least not in any straightforward fashion.

As I look now at the sonnet painting above, I feel surprised by myself, even though the translation seemed perfectly logical at the time (here is the original background story and the text of the sonnet). In this sonnet, Shakespeare contrasts "that Muse" that "likes of hearsay well" with his own, focusing on earthly, simple comparisons with everyday things. Yet what stands for "that Muse" in my painting is an honest straightforward still life (albeit filled with fanciful items), while my whole project of translating Shakespeare's sonnets into painting, is, arguably, the sinful love of artful "hearsay" and stylistic Glasperlenspiel through and through (not that Shakespeare did not have that love himself, of course).      

So, you see, even "in theory" I do have more respect for the earthly honesty of straightforward direct painting, for more matter with less art (even if it's still art). My life would have been, it seems, so much easier, simpler, so much more fun and less exhaustion, had I followed this route. Drowning myself in Shakespeare's verse, trying to get out of it with a painting, is a constant risk of misstep, danger of overwhelming complexity. And here, perhaps, is my answer: easy and fun is just not how any truth is discovered.    

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