Monday, February 13, 2017

Deep Listening

In the early stage of any of my paintings I have a chance to be playfully unconcerned about the outcome.  Colors and gestures are free and pleasurable.  After the initial layers I spend as much time in contemplation and conversation with the work in progress as I do with additions and subtractions.

For some reason this particular painting, which I began in August, 2016, challenged my faith in that process.  Questions of my inherent ability arose as days and then weeks of small amendments didn't really advance the work.

In early October, I had to admit I was totally stuck. There seemed to be no way forward that would satisfy and I was struggling more than usual to eliminate parts of it.  This painting hung there taunting me.  I didn't have a clue how to proceed.

Stuck, after several weeks.

By December, wondering if I should just paint over the entire surface and begin again, I realized it wasn't just a painting anymore.  It was a metaphor for my own uncertain, unsettled self.  I began working on it again in earnest.

Eventually it started to greet me with less hostility. We were sharing true communication.  In the final stages of any of my paintings, I go over every inch of the surface to make sure there are no marks, spaces or colors that disturb me.  Then, standing back, if it lifts me up, I experience the satisfied joy of completion.

Deep Listening

For this painting, there was extended, distressful floundering for clues, for progress and for affirmation.  As difficult as it was, I am proud of myself for working through the dark thoughts of giving up.  More than that, to come out on the other side, in gratitude, the long process truly a deep listening.


  1. Carol,

    I like the part where the painting started to greet you with less hostility! Isn't that the truth of the matter? These works sit in our studios and have a life of their own. I frequently have thought that the work was somehow mocking me. Go figure.

    Good for you for persevering and not letting things bring you to a complete standstill. I bet something in your personal life must have given way and maybe that made room for the solution with your work.

    Good job!

    1. Thank you for reading this, Libby, and for your understanding of that "hostility!" I actually don't know which came first, the change in my attitude in my personal life, or the change towards resolution of my painting. Having worked on it over such a long period of time makes for a loss of memory. It didn't get finished until mid January!