Monday, January 14, 2013

Impressions and memories

Sunny mountaintops. 16"x20". Oil on canvas panel. 2012
I have just returned from a week-long trip to Chicago and NYC, so this blog, as well, returns from its week-long hiatus. 

I used to envy people who carefully write down their travels in minute details, preserving their impressions and memories in words and even special travel books. I tended to believe that, when I grow up, I'll acquire this habit as well. Maybe I still do, occasionally. But I've come to love living my life as it happens, without recording it, not to wrap the immediacy of impressions into stories, not to mix impressions and memories: so that the memory of each moment is preserved as I lived it, not as I written it down, flattened and trivialized. Maybe I just don't believe in my ability to write with richness of life. I sometimes tell stories of my life later on, when the memory has already been crystallized and is in no danger of dissolving into words.

I pulled out this painting as the illustration to this post because painting en plein air is the closest I come to recording my life. And often, like here, I overlay these impressions later, in studio re-work, drawing from the essence of crystallized memories. This particular motive of sunny mountaintops -- I've repeated it many times, in different sizes and formats; but this version is special, because its first, now nearly hidden, layer has been done from life. Nearly hidden in reworks and remembrances, but still visible and alive, the original source of energy and color. The studio rework has made it somewhat more abstract, fuzzier, yet more straightforwardly rhythmical. Isn't that what memory does with our immediate impressions of life?    

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