|Influence of Hue 40 x 40" oil/cold wax on panel ©2011 Janice Mason Steeves|
Each time I begin a painting, I wonder where it will go. I begin intuitively, holding a thought in my mind of what I'd like to express. My paintings are abstract investigations of landscape, symbols, memory and process. I know artists who are fully confident that even if they can't see what the finished painting will look like, trust that the process will resolve itself and become a painting. I can't say that I am so confident. When I step into the studio each day, I feel to some extent that I'm stepping into the abyss. This is the excitement of abstract painting. I have no idea where the work will go or how I will get there or if it will resolve itself. And yet they do, they always eventually do.
I love that razor's edge though, between safety and the abyss. I think it keeps the work honest. There is some sense of terror there!
Yesterday, I reread a quote of Joseph Campbell's from the book, The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. Campbell had just made a speech in Chicago about the nature of the goddess and the role of the artist in society. Afterwards, a woman came up to him to tell him that she was going to Greece to 'find the spirit of the goddess'. She showed Campbell her detailed itinerary, which included precise calculations of the best times to visit every major cultural attraction. "Do you think this is sufficient?", she asked Campbell. He took her free hand in his and with great kindness said, "Dear lady, I sincerely hope that all does not go as planned." When Cousineau later asked him about this response, Campbell replied, "How will the gods ever find her when she has done everything in her power to make sure they never will? Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the divine enter in?"