Saturday, April 20, 2013

Back to LIfe...The Balance of Joy and Pain

Interesting week, interesting month. I haven't touched pastel to paper or paint to canvas in so long, seems like I'm waking from a bad dream. I needed to get back to my first love. So earlier this month, I pulled completed, signed work off drawing boards and a few days later, put up new paper. The wonderful thing about this process is that there isn't a fixed idea in my head, and unlike the angst of a college freshman, I don't worry about what will be rendered; I go with the flow. This is new paper from a drawing pad my wife gave me for Christmas. It's not the expensive sanded pastel paper at $56 for a pad of 12 x 18, or premium charcoal paper. It's the type given as a gift to aspiring young artists who need a white surface to practice their craft. But I've used paper like this before and learned very quickly that quality is what you make of it.
One Thursday, taking a day off and having completed most of my chores and errands, I carved out time for this new surface. I popped open my case of pastels and let flow. I have plenty of work surrounding me, my work reminds me of the colors I love to use and the way I like to blend them. But I started off with the intent of testing the paper's durability and ability to reflect colors. Each stroke rendered, with laboratory precision, measuring absorption, reflection and my own reaction.

The one thing I love about my creative process is it feels like a journey to an unexplored country. Each step, via each stroke, steps across a lush garden of flora and fauna practically unknown.

I'm not one to spend too much time 'enjoying' myself - call it a result of adult responsibilities - and I was done in little or no time. But there's a balance of moments of joy and pain, and not necessarily an even balance. Journaling is part of my morning routine, and this week, Tuesday, I wanted to break away from the norm. My work surrounds me, both visual and written, so sitting in this space is good for my soul. But time is always ticking...with a few minutes, I picked up a deep blue to give the work in progress, depth. And it was on; in a few minutes, I made a journey into my favorite world.

Trying not to make this long and boring, so I'm cutting to the chase, the balance of Joy and Pain. Thursday morning, at 3:30 am, it's raining buckets. The basement living area is prepared for the worst, anything that's normally on the floor is up and out of the path of water. I'm writing, journaling and preparing for gym time. Drip...drip, drip...the sound is coming from the bathroom on the other side of my office. Scramble to the garage, grab the shop vac and prepare for battle. The next 12 hours are spent praying, baling water and cleaning. Work day, canceled. Daily commute, on hold. It's an emergency, and I'm on emergency preparedness mode. I would like to say I handled the situation like a pro, but when it's your space, your stuff, no matter how prepared you are, emotions are running high. By the time 8:00 pm came around, the floors were cleaned, drying and the my energy drained.

During this time, while the rain poured and the reflection of water danced off the ceiling of the basement, I looked in the distance at my latest 'experiment' on the drawing board, sitting on the easel in my room. In that moment, its reflection outshone the misery of the day. In those seconds, the sense of beauty that comes from my soul made sense. And in that moment, my life's work made sense.