Saturday, November 13, 2010

Growing for growing's sake

I found a tiny miracle in my house this morning when I got up. This summer a friend gave me some prunings from one of my favorite shrubs of hers, an unknown variety of Pieris that has bright pink new growth every winter. I potted up several cuttings from it and they've been living under lights inside my house, along with a hydrangea cutting from my flowers-bigger-than-my-head plant. Although none of them  have died, they hadn't shown any signs of growth either—until this morning. One of them has a tiny new branch with several miniscule leaves on it. Sure hope it keeps growing till spring, when I'll be able to put it out in the garden.

A couple days ago I did a piece that reminded me of one of Diebenkorn's Ocean Park series—the blue and green colors and the blockiness of it. Usually the shapes of the pieces don’t add that much to the overall look of the piece, but in this one the color shapes combined to make a real composition. Looking at his work again reminds me of where I got lost in my painting, when it seemed like I stopped getting what I wanted, and I realize that never happened—I just kept changing what I wanted. Learning to paint what’s inside you is exploring the unknown, and exploring the unknown is like going up a staircase and thinking every step is the summit. You spend time at each one, examining every bit of it in detail so you can translate it into your experience.  You paint it this way and that until it’s yours, all yours, and suddenly you realize—it’s not the top, it’s not where you’re trying to get to—it’s just another step. You start looking around for the rest of the staircase, the next step. You come upon something that clicks with you—it might be anything—something that stirs you, that makes you want to run and grab your paints and start working again.

Looking at Diebenkorn's work on the web made me feel that way—that I wanted to grab my paints—but I didn't, I made more glass instead.

I made a peppery color scheme, for a fellow gardener, that looks good enough to eat in the sun.

And then I made one that looks rather unfortunately like a really old piece of pizza. It will go to a lonely, dark corner of my garden where no one will ever notice it. I hope. Or maybe I'll bury it, so a hundred years from now a future resident can dig it up, and go "Ewwwww!"

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for a member of our local Hardy Plant group, a wonderful woman whom I clearly did not get to know well enough. The pastor who officiated said something at the end that touched me. "If you want to honor Ann, take a little bit of whatever she gave you, and pass it on to someone else."That is a way of growing that I hadn't thought of—growing a memory into an act of friendship, growing a previous relationship into a future one. By passing on even the tiniest gift, you multiply it far beyond its original size.

No comments:

Post a Comment