Friday, December 12, 2014

Taking The Plunge

Let me ask you;  Are you the type that goes charging head-long into every venture?  You know, "Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!"  Or are you the more methodical, take-it-one-step at a time, no need to hurry type?

Here's a scenario:  Say you're at the beach on a hot summer day.  Do you creep up on the water, dipping one toe in a a time, slowly acclimating each body part to the chilly water?  Or do you just go plunging in without a thought-- just get 'er done?  Me?  I'm both.

Now first off a disclaimer-- The Atlantic Ocean here in Maine is not known for it's warmth.  We're not talking Miami Beach here.  In fact, we do our "Polar Plunge" on July 4th!  And have you ever noticed that the warmer the days, the colder the water gets?  There's a scientific reason for that, but this is Maine-ly Painting after all, not Maine-ly Oceanography.  But I digress...  Anyway, I will sneak up to the water, checking the temperature one toe at a time, gauging to see how cold it is and what shock to the system is involved by plunging in.  Then, I turn and high step it in, back arched, my shoulders pinned to my ears, water splashing until I dive in head-first.   Followed by my bursting out of the water, emitting a shriek reminiscent of a steam whistle.  Or a six year old girl...

I'm also that way when it comes to a new painting.  I pussy-foot around, taking a moment here and there doing little thumbnail scribbles on scrap pieces of paper-- no big deal, I may do this painting, maybe not, who knows?  Then comes the occasional glances at potential reference material, whether from my files or the interweb.  Still, no sweat, no commitment.  What I'm doing is trying to figure out what it will take for this painting to come to life.  How much of a shock to the system will it cause, as it were.  But also at this stage, the idea of how great the painting could be is still greater than the reality of the painting itself.  While it's still a dream it's the best piece I've ever done.  My Masterpiece!  All that changes as soon as I start to work on it in earnest.

But really, if I'm being honest the prime reason for my procrastination is because when I do high-step it and jump in feet first it will consume me for however long it takes to finish.  For that length of time I will live and breathe this picture.  It will follow me from my studio up to my house every night where I will spend evenings with one eye on the TV and the other eye on the painting as I analyze it incessantly.  I will spend hours each night lying in bed wide awake as I think of what the next step will be on the painting, what colors will work best, what method of applying paint will be more effective.  There will be no off days.  Every day for the duration will be spent in the studio.

There will also be the emotional roller-coaster, for sure.  The fire of inspiration, the enthusiasm of what can be.  The thrill of seeing my idea start to take form.  It will be followed by the inevitable "I've messed this all up" stage that usually is the half-way mark.  Then comes the drudgery.  The small, endless little detail work that I thought was going to be so much fun is now just a pain-in-the-ass, "what-was-I-thinking?" And "This doesn't look right at all!"  Maybe somewhere in there- if I'm lucky- will be a joyous, "Wow!  That passage came out great!"  But probably not...

At the end of it all will be a finished painting.  Maybe I'll be proud of it, maybe not.  But it will be done, and I will be emotionally drained.  So really, can you blame me if I beat around the bush a little before I do it all again?  It's kinda funny though, usually before the painting is done I've made a few thumbnail scribbles of a new idea.  I've glanced at some reference material.  In short-- I'm tip-toeing along the waters edge, nerving myself up for another plunge.  And maybe this time it will be different--

Maybe this time I won't come up shrieking like a six-year old girl...


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