3-1/4 Views of Fukushima
February 2021. Acrylic on wood panel. 12 x 9 in.
Hard to get a good scan of this painting, but basically it’s just two colors, ultramarine blue and pyrrole red, rolled on a wood panel with a soft brayer.
Ten years on, the several related events involved with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, including the earthquake and tsunami as well as the spread of radioactive debris in the ocean, still cause uneasiness and even nightmares for people on the West Coast. The Pacific Ocean is a big unsteady bowl on the edges of which Japan and the Western states all sit. Our toes are all wet with the same water. We are neighbors, and share the same dreads. My heart still feels for the people of Japan and all they suffered in this multifaceted disaster.
December 2020. Acrylic on canvas. 16 x 12 in.
Things have moved to a new level in the studio the last few months. A subtle graduation has occurred. I seem to have gained my footing with the acrylics. I have enough skills now that I am better able to achieve what I’m trying to do, to match the execution to the vision and the impulse. And when I encounter a challenge, I’m more likely to know a solution, or at least in which direction to turn. And because of this, I am more patient. I’m willing to set a work aside for months, if need be, and feel confident that the solution or direction will become apparent to me with time. The flailing has lessened; the Hail Mary passes are fewer. And I’m less likely to fall into an abyss of hopelessness and self-condemnation when several works in a row seem unsuccessful.
I’m also fully focused now on several series of works and have lost patience with my long-time practice of giving myself “assignments” to help me learn. There’s a growing pile of such pieces that I’ve simply lost interest in. And I’ve become better at distinguishing between works on which I’m just unsure how to proceed, and those that just actually don’t mean anything to me. This is a change from the past. The curiosity of trying to learn something or the challenge of solving them technically is not enough to carry me through to completion. I keep wandering off to the works that compel me.
This is a good thing.
The works I’m doing now may or may not be “good” – I’m not in the best position to judge – but they are what I want to be doing. I’m achieving my visions, and through the prompts of the medium and process itself I’m discovering new visions, visions that surprise me.
“Carbon 2”, above, is from a small but growing series that surprises me, and keeps pulling me forward in an unhurried way. There are four completed works now, and I know more are coming. I posted the first here (it was an “Untitled” then, but I’ve since realized it was “Carbon 1”). I’ve been working increasingly with black and white, or minor variations on B&W such as the grayed white in the Carbon paintings, or just small amounts of other hues as in Urchin and Pause Point. And, for those who are curious about such things, the black pigment in the Carbon paintings is carbon black; it is Mars black in the other two just mentioned.