Having just completed the painting shown above, I'm faced with that sometimes daunting task of finding the inspiration for what to paint next. It's not that I have no ideas. On the contrary, I have dozens of ideas floating around in my head. But choosing which idea to go with, and which approach to take to it - aye! there's the rub.
I was fortunate last week. I'd been asked to make the painting "Stacy on the beach" and had been provided with a good photo to work from. Other than straightening it (so the horizon is horizontal) and then cropping it to the 4x5 proportions I needed for the canvas I'd chosen, I did nothing to it. That's ideal, in my book, I prefer to not have to "Photoshop" an image.
In any case, there's something about this scene that connected with me. I know Stacy & Olivia personally but that's not it. It's bigger than that and has to do with how Stacy's looking out to the vast ocean, how she's got Olivia taut on the leash, how Olivia strains to see or hear whatever it is that's out there. The sand of the beach cutting diagonally across the lower portion of the painting and the way the water bends that angle until it reaches the flat-bottomed clouds in that beautiful blue sky combine to make something special.
There's a whole world of promise, looking ahead, seeking the expansiveness, finding one's place, alone but connected, in the presence of the eternal, all at once, walking in the sand and surf on that beach.
I'm not a religious person, not a spiritual one at all. I saw something earlier today that suggested that we all try to "become one" with the universal. It's a silly suggestion. As if somehow the vastness of space and the billions of years and the trillions of stars that surround us don't come from the same place we come from, and aren't going to the same place we're going to.
If we froze the universe in this instant, and every microscopic particle of matter were standing still, we'd be frozen too. But the movement of particles won't soon be stopped, and the particle-waves that comprise me are constantly moving - just as are the ones that make up the Sun or the Phoenix Nebula deep in space. This movement of particles is what we know as "time"; it is the change in this moment from the last. From the Big Bang to the very next instant to the very next one after that, is the eternal unfolding of now, it is the Event and the Happening that is the universal.
We could no more "become one" with the universe than molecules of water could become one with the ocean they're in - they already ARE the ocean. We are all "one" with the movement of particles we're in - we already ARE the universal.
So now I sift through the ideas in my head and look at the thousands of images in my books and hard drives. There's another moment caught in time, somewhere in all that, waiting to be painted. Artificially frozen still, it captures something that will connect with me, some part of the universal I will touch. But I believe that I may not find it by looking; it may not really be my choice. If I'm lucky, it will find me.