Monday, January 22, 2007

Painting Scared


It happened the other day. I'm embarrassed to say it had been a while. I got scared. I was painting and I got scared. My blood started to rush, my heart began to pump, and my brow got wet. I was scared. I had forgotten how it felt.

A couple days later I mentioned it to a painter friend and he said, yeah, when you think you've got a big one on the line. I agreed, but it was more than that. In fact, I don't think that was it at all. Unless you call the big one the unknown. That was what it was. I was someplace that wasn't safe, and maybe it was like the hunt, but not fishing, more like big game, in the dark, something that could actually hurt you. That was how it felt. And I remembered, that was how I felt painting as a young man, and that was the feeling that guided me. I always wanted to feel the adrenaline. I was maybe even addicted to that feeling. It was risk, danger, speed, the unknown. That was what painting had always felt like. I would throw myself into it and stay as close to the edge as possible, and risk falling off every second.

I remember hearing painters say that getting good at what or how you were painting was the kiss of death, and well, frankly, I believed them. It leads to a kind of sleep. Getting comfortable was the equivalent, and we all know what that means; we take things for granted, the blood stops flowing, we stop being scared.

So here is my New Year's resolution. I'm going to start painting scared again. I promise.

Or what? OK, maybe my friend had it right. Maybe it is because you have a big one on the line and your adrenaline starts to pump through the roof. Maybe it is because you don't want to lose it, screw it up, maybe this is the big one: so you hold on, and that's when it gets scary. Because you can't control the big ones, and they are going to drag you straight to hell. The big ones are the Moby Dicks, of course. They get you every time. The ones you land, well, they are the exceptions, unless of course you are out of your mind, and most of our best and brightest were, well, nothing short...

There is that other possibility still/again; that you’re really scared because you’re out on thin ice, over your head, however you want to put it. I like that. Biting off more than you can chew and then having to chew like crazy. Chew like you are out of your mind!

1 comment:

Sean McFeely said...

I know what you're trying to say, man, but it's not life-threatening. Once you cross that line, you get used to it. You probably are already out there, judging from your work, so you've just forgotten, and you got a little reminder. I am sure, if you were doing the kind of crafty shit you see everywhere, you wouldn't know the meaning of painting, much less brave.