I have been threatening to write a book for years now. The problem is I have never really figured out what that book exactly is. I suppose loosely it would be a memoir. I would want it to help someone in someway. Maybe just to let someone know their feelings were valid. We all want to belong at some point. We want to be part of the pack, the herd, the tribe. Connection is an important part of being human. And with that connection is the hope that we are understood by at least one other.
So, someone advised me to write this book. They essentially asked why am I waiting. And now I ask myself the same question. Why wait?
Everything is relevant to the edge. The border between. The precipice. Neither here nor there. Edge. I have lived my life there. This, I believe, was not always intentional.
Should art be a struggle? I suppose there should be a fair amount of effort in creating, if not, why bother. I have been struggling for the past two days on a painting of me and a guitar. The one hand on the fretboard is driving me nuts. Hands are hard, but this one is proving extraordinaryily so.
A couple of things hit me this morning as I was pondering the day's approach. Perhaps I am trying to be too realistic and it has become stiff. Also, I don't really play the guitar, so I think there is a two-fold guilt going on here, because I also, have some issues about calling myself an artist. Afterall, I am not doing so well at selling anything. So, this whole effort seems a bit contrived, but aren't all of our lives basically just that? So, I guess the thing is, fake it until you convince the world and, more importantly, yourself that you are what you say you are.
I walked into the morning coolness just to see what was about. I was excited to leave the house. Excited to see the results of yesterday's artistic struggle. Looking at the canvas by the open window, a jackrabbit caught my eye. He approached until he was right outside the window. I could hear him chewing. A seemingly disproportionate animal, legs and ears too long, head too small, large eyes, I was struck by his overall delicate nature. It was my close connection to Nature for the day. Being awake. Being aware.
I have come to realize, after a week-long visit of a grandchild and her respective friend, that the "studio" is indeed a magical place. I think I knew this to be true and even wished for it, but seeing things through a child's eyes (as cliché as that may be) tends to make it so.
Taken at face value, the studio is a small building that sits away from the main house and makes one rationalize its existance. Does its separation from the everyday make it a luxury or a necessity? I live in such an improbable existence that even I question it.
It is a space that brings to life imagination. Even the steps I recently built are a testament to this. There is an awesome power at work here. I must keep aware of this. It is a workshop of imagination. This is magic!
I'm gessoing a canvas today. At this stage, everything that resembles creativity is a haze. It's the tiny minutiae that comes into focus. I find myself picking tiny dog hairs out of the gesso. And I study defects in the weave. These things tend to disappear with the first brushstrokes, but for now, they are major players.
In between coats, I am reading passages from Robert Kull's, Solitude.
Last evening it rained, again. I mean a good, soaking rain. The kind that leaves the ground muddy the next morning. This is such a rarity here in the desert and when it comes, the joy it brings is almost indescribable. I find myself giddy and running from window to window making sure all areas are getting their fair share, as if, my attention could control it somehow. I know there is a great lesson in this anomaly. I feel it is something deeper than just gratitude for something that has been missing. It seems to be more primal than that. It is our connection to water as a living entity that seems to be at the heart of this...this joy.
Finally, after a month or more of heat, biting flies, and heavy lifting, I have reached the top of the studio steps. It feels good. There is still the flagstone landing to do, but that's just sinking stones in place. Did it turn out exactly as I had envisioned it? Maybe not exactly, but it's not too bad. I still want to incorporate some concrete heads into the side walls. I think that will make it special and be a bit of a lasting signature.
Last night it rained! It was not just a drop or two, but a real downpour. Things are still wet this morning and it smells divine. It smells like it used to smell camping in the Colorado high country. All of Nature seems happy this morning. During the rain last night we were sitting on the back porch when down by my feet appeared a salamander. Once again, a creature I would not expect to see in a desert. More and more this place and its creatures reminds me of growing up in rural Kentucky. Now if we only had "lightning bugs".
Summer in all its glory. And here we are one day away from Independence Day. How very wonderful!
We are at the half-way point in the year. I must say, there is something disturbing about that. Time passing too quickly, I guess. And we are at that point of abundance in the year, maybe even, overabundance. The word fecundity comes to mind and Annie Dillard's chapter by the same name in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. As I sit here, there are three hummingbirds fighting for the feeder, rabbits of all sorts are running about , and seeds, the walking kind, are everywhere. And, of course, flies are at plague proportions. All are fighting for survival, to make their mark.As the wind blows out of the East, it blows in a chance of rain. This is such welcome news. Yes, Summer reigns heavy right now.
Pat Greenwell is an artist. A painter and sometimes poet, he has been searching the New Mexico desert for a couple of years now, looking for lost possibilities and probable intentions.
"...mostly stream-of-consciousness stuff, you know...