Tuesday, July 17, 2012

how I complicate

The more I do this, the stranger it becomes.

I mix colors, then I push them around on a surface in the shape of a human face. The exact shape of which means something impossibly important to someone. I have my own fastidiousness about getting the curve of the lip just right, or the space between the eyelid and the brow, and loosely, and painterly, and without muddying, but also because I know that if I don't get it right, it'll feel like just an imitation of a face -- that face, that one you adore with your whole heart.

It's gotten kind of heavy.

I started out with maybe four or five colors on my palette, and it took me an afternoon to create a portrait from start to finish. Now there are approximately 18 colors, arranged in minutely varying gradations, and it takes more than three full days to finish. I've complicated things, and I can't uncomplicate them. I've always been better at trees than forests.

But just look at these gorgeous trees! Saplings, really:

What a peculiar trick it is to translate light touching on shapes into daubs of color, arranged just so. So that you recognize her, her mood, her weight, her next gesture.

I would like to think I am getting better with each new portrait... but right now it's hard to tell. I do this to myself a lot: I charge into a project, I fantasize about its proportions, I drive myself toward these challenges, and then I stop abruptly short of going over the cliff with wild abandon. YIKES, I think. Don't want to go down there, with all of that unknown stuff.

I'm terrified of making mistakes.

Therefore, painting portraits of people's lovely children is the most convolutedly perfect thing I could be doing.

I will learn to make mistakes and not see them as mistakes. I will learn to make mistakes and keep going. I will learn FROM my mistakes.

I will learn to simplify.