Tuesday, February 9, 2010

i forgot to forget

Eight days ago we moved the last of our belongings out of our house, which now sits with no plaster on the walls and only dust and rubble on the floors. Missing windows allow the cool morning breeze to blow through and the sound of traffic to interfere with our conversation. Everything has moved to my former studio, which is a disconnected basement of the remodel project above, a storage unit, or the dark windowless crawl space below the studio. It’s the crawl space where all of my art supplies lay. Only a couple of sketchpads and Ticonderoga Number Two’s made it to the new dwelling. When spring brings fairer weather the great outdoors will become my painting studio.

It’s strange not painting. I guess the change of medium is good for me, but drawing just doesn’t give the satisfaction I get from splashing paint around. I’m such a messy painter. Making lines just isn’t the same. What if I forget how to paint? I remember after graduating from art school thinking that. If I didn’t keep painting constantly, maybe I would forget. I felt like the ability to paint was tenuous, and just barely remembered between sessions, as though the time between painting was like a battery slowing losing its charge. If that time went too long the battery would drain completely and I’d be left without the ability to start up again. I remember telling this to another artist and he said he thought it would be good to forget how to paint. His comment befuddled me, and I assumed that he was just so much more experienced than me that what he really meant was that he knew he wouldn’t completely forget, that by “forgetting” he really just meant that he thought it would be good to shed his skin a bit and try something new. He knew that his ability was on a strong foundation and not in danger of disappearing completely.

It has been a month since I last painted. My fears of forgetting how from several years ago are no longer there, but I do miss it. When I do begin to paint again, when the materials are brought out of their dark storage and dusted off, I will face another change. I have no space to store any new paintings. The storage units are stuffed full. The walls are covered. I will have to paint small and maybe on paper to minimize the impact on space. Maybe I’ll paint disposable paintings. I don’t know. I need the magic disappearing ink so that each day the paper will be white again. Whatever I do it will be different and challenging. No more huge canvases with broad gestures. I will have to miniaturize the experience. Gulliver with a paint brush. What will that be like? What will I remember and what will be new?