You know how when you learn a new word and suddenly you see that word wherever you go? Is that synchronicity? When I got the news that Arthur and I had a brand new granddaughter and her name was Sunny I was on a Zoom chat with my friend, Sunny Buick.
In the following three days I saw two Sunny's in the credits of TV shows.
This morning I heard a new word; duplicative--that is, of or meaning a duplicate and I heard it again this evening. I expect to hear it constantly for the next week. Is that synchronicity or coincidence?
Then there's serendipity. I've been thinking about how sometimes images fall into place and I feel delight and my work almost does itself. Sunny gave me a few thoughts on Serendipity from her journal-she spoke so fast I'm not sure I got it all down but I think she said,
"Opportunity aligns with readiness; Luck and preparation create magical alignments or miracles."
This spring I planned to submit work to an open call for a gallery show. I was all set with the drawing of my choice when I read the fine print-a size limit of 20 inches in any direction. Oh, NO! When I work small I can't get all the details in and the work just doesn't enchant. I thought I'd have to give up.
But I dragged out an old portfolio with a collection of pieces I didn't know what to do with and came up with...
The Bear and the Bison. I've always loved these two portraits but never knew how to finish them. This time I just put them down on the starry sky and the golden wheat field and that was it. Now they're hanging at Gallery Sitka in Shirley MA until June 1.
Thank you curator, Beth Barry!
This conflict between diligence and inspiration takes me back to my class with Leo Manso at the League. I've told you how he looked at my detailed pen and ink drawings and said;
"I can tell you're a conscientious person, but nine to five isn't ART."
What I don't remember in all the years that I've re-told that story is that he also said, "I see a lot of skill here but..." Was he saying I should throw every thing away and start over? I couldn't do that but I looked hard at what I had been doing and wondered how much thought I was putting into it. That was a turning point for me, and I recorded the struggle in the little book-notebook, sketchbook, journal, diary, talisman that I started to carry with me everywhere.
There are some great quotes here in many different handwritings, all jumbled in with cut out images, doodles, clippings for me newspaper.
"Fortune favors the prepared mind." "The happy accident favors the informed mind."
"Diligence is the mother of good fortune." then in my own words-Diligence is driving me crazy.
"If it's not working check the balance, size, shape. Repetition--is it subtle variations on a theme or boring repetition?"
"Attention is an act of will."
for LM "Art should be psychologically relevant, aesthetically pleasing and well-crafted."
"Art should be revelatory. "
"Joseph Cornell pursued connections through emblems and symbols. Conjunctions of ideas, sympathies, aesthetics, histories, interests and practices"
"What's good and what's not? When it works I really don't know why. "
"Unexpected poetry in the most basic alterations of physical materials"
"The imagination. the unconscious"
"The skill gets in the way of revelation"
"The dizziness that comes from too much possibility"
"effortless unity, tired subjects redeemed by fresh context"
"delight in the act of seeing without trying to immediately trying to reach a conclusion about what you are seeing"
all the time I was staring at --and playing with--this drawing, Lady Cecily Heron by Holbein.
One more quote: "When I'm crosshatching doing handiwork that doesn't require intense concentration the mind is free to wander focused but free--keep a pen and ink drawing going at all times-record the ideas when they come in..."
I can work for hours covering the paper with tiny marks and then something happens that feels beyond my control; like the way this pelican found his way to this table. So, diligence is fine in its place and so is spontaneity.
May 20, 2021