Friday, June 28, 2019

Why I Paint: Understanding the World

Shady Pond
9x12 Oil

In a previous post, I wrote that painting is the way I "digest the world."  To clarify, painting helps me observe and also sometimes understand the physical world.  There's more than a little bit of the scientist in me, and through painting I may learn something about botany, ornithology, geology, meteorology and a few other -ologies.  For example, while painting a spruce along the edge of a bog, I may note that one branch goes off in an odd direction, and so I deduce it's because it had to grow around another branch that is now missing.  This and other observations provide clues to the tree's life story.

But interestingly, the things I observe and learn about may not be the things I paint.

Painting is a holistic enterprise, so while making my study of a spruce, I am also paying peripheral attention to everything else.  I follow the buzz of an insect, and I find it drowning in the "pitcher" of a pitcher plant.  A chickadee sings in my spruce—will it miss this one insect?  No, because I spy wrigglers—mosquito larvae—in the red, tannin-rich water of the bog, and soon there will be plenty of mosquitoes for it to harvest.  And in fact, a rainbow-colored sundog, pinned to a ceiling of high, wispy clouds, foretells of rain and even more mosquitoes.

Painting also helps me understand the metaphysical world.  More about that later.

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