While I wait for my oils to dry, collage materials come out from tidy file folders and litter the floor of the studio in piles of potential.
This is usually a grounding exercise for me, to allow myself to be less cerebral about creating things. I can let the materials determine my direction, let each piece find its place in one of a thousand configurations. The sheer possibility of it all is invigorating, and somehow less daunting than painting.
If I listen to music while I make art, there is a point at which the notes and words and trajectories of songs start to mesh with the hue and composition of my own work. At least, I find myself noticing the substance of music -- the raw materials that musicians use to build something out of nothing -- and suddenly it's like there's no difference between the way music sounds and the way a painting looks.
My boyfriend in college was a musician, a guitar player. He had a natural, fluid talent that seemed to flow effortlessly through him, even his gestures and the way he walked. I remember being awed just watching him tune his guitar, his long agile fingers adjusting nuances in pitch that I couldn't perceive.
Now I think about that when I mix my colors: how is this orange? Too sour? Add a little red. Too flat? More yellow. Too hot? Temper it with some blue. My own hands are less than graceful most of the time, but when I'm weilding a palette knife, they have their own intuition; sublties of color emerge on my canvases, enchanting me. This piece is moody and layered, like Cat Power; that piece is bright and ironic, like the Magnetic Fields. See what I mean?
I used to wish I was a singer. Actually I still do -- I wish I had the kind of raw power in my throat, like Neko Case or Bjork, the power to carve a feeling out of a string of words and a swath of silent air. How do they do it? Do they make mistakes? Do they doubt their whims?
Once something exists, it's hard to believe it wasn't always there: this melody, this combination of colors, this baby growing in my belly. Something out of nothing, the ultimate act of creativity.
And so, before the piece is finished, it's all possibility. I am not the agent of choice so much as just another piece in the kaleidescope.