December 11, 2003


I'm painting and scraping. This is the fourth day since we returned from the trip out West and I'm stretching out this phlegmatic phase a little too long.

I don't like what I've done so far. I've got a little headache that doesn't go away... for days. This must be a mild depression. I've got a circut breaker inside me that flips when I don't feel the thread of a good painting coming this way. I can't paint just because I should or that the clock says so. I refuse to repeat myself. I can't do what I've done before unless I feel I've got hold of something interesting. I'm like a mule sitting flat on his ass, ears back, stubborn and fixated, a little cross. I don't expect every moment of painting to be impassioned and inspired, and most times I can tolerate being lost in the woods because the next turn can be exciting, in fact, I want to be thrown off... but I won't enter the forest without a mission, a quest. I won't just move paint around mechanically just because I'm supposed to be a painter. I've got to have that sense of where to go, call it inspiration, that idea/feeling that enlivens, that makes movement bouyant, that thread of anticipation that overcomes dead gravity.

So I stare. I used to tell my students that you aren't working if it doesn't hurt. It hurts. I paint in my head like a chess player forecasting moves into the game. I've tried distracting myself hoping that the dwell has to broken, but I can't shake the feeling that every moment I don't dwell is progress lost, as if I could split concrete by sheer intention.

I looked for the image of Coppola's "Apocalypse Now", the screenshot of Martin Sheen's Captain Willard, in his hotel room before he goes upriver into Cambodia. That's how I feel now. Broken glass, slobbering, butt naked, tear stained self indulgence, flat on my ass...

...or something like that. Don't worry. It'll get better. It usually does.

Posted by Dennis at December 11, 2003 10:41 AM

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