I confess: this is also my space to write about my stalled attempts to find the love of my life. That formless, gormless path of my life that I call painterly includes sporadic ventures into love. No one says relationships are easy, so I don't try to form one when life is otherwise complicated.
This past year I've been taking painting classes with the artist Nicholas Pearce. I'm on my fourth course, a third repeat, but I'm learning so much from him. As I gain clarity about my painting, I am finding that other things either become less important or simpler. It's because I'm finally learning to listen to my gut, or my heart. Or at least, learning that I have to learn how to do that. How do you learn the vocabulary of your gut's language?
And so I feel more confident about meeting men, as well. While I can't say I'll know the right man when I meet him, I can tell that I do want someone who is articulate, intelligent, probably educated, and for sure is not caught by the web of passions like drinking and sex.
Leonardo said that when you draw, you shouldn't draw outlines (or something like that; have to look it up). This is the classic advice of art teachers--draw shapes, capture form, and realize that form can be represented with only a few simple strokes of the pencil. And in our painting class, I'm painting shapes. I'll often paint from photographs with the canvas upside down. It's so easy to get distracted by what my mind thinks about what I'm seeing. I was drawing my niece Melanie this afternoon, who was resting her head on her arm, face toward me but totally horizontal, and half the face hidden in the shadow behind the arm. There are no familiar shapes at this angle for the mind to recognize and dictate the hand. You'd think I'd therefore be able to suspend all my preconceptions about form and draw exactly what I see, and thus come up with a good portrait. But no, the sketch doesn't look at all like Melanie of the lovely eyes. Why? Because I'm still learning (plus she kept moving...).
Nevertheless, it's portraits that I want to paint. I've only come to that realization this past week. And I want to start with portraits of people I know. I've done one of my niece AnnaLise, and am working on of my oldest sister, Fern. I want to paint these portraits to see deeper into myself--how I care for these people, revealing for myself what I see in their character that I enjoy. Meditating, as I paint, on the people themselves.
All this is to say that calling my life painterly is a way to give myself permission to be who I am: inconsistent, uncomfortable with settling for shallowness, flippant when the going gets too deep, and NOT too old to be learning.