Sometimes when reading Damon’s work, or, in this case, watching his documentary film, Koppmoll, I have to stop and savor them for a while. Such was the case with this phrase from the film, “We can believe we have answers, but, sometimes we can only listen.”
One day I decided I wanted to experiment with a more abstract approach to a painting, using cold wax medium. Cold wax looks like Crisco. It is beeswax with a small amount of solvent to soften it and other ingredients to aid in drying time. When added to oils it adds texture to the paint and lends itself to layering, scraping, solvent reductions. It is an intuitive and spontaneous approach to the piece. I began layering paint on the panel, scraping, removing, adding another layer, removing again, thicker layers, thinner layering, solvent reduction, all to expose underlying texture and paint. Gradually, with no real plan for the end result, the painting began to take form. I began to slow down and pay attention to what it was saying, what it needed. I began to listen.
Many critics and writers have commented about how artists bring their whole life to what they paint, how each brush stroke comes from a place within themselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than with an abstract painting. The unconscious self is allowed to come forward. It is in this moment artists need to get out of the way and let the painting guide us forward.
As I look at this painting now, and each and every time I look at it, I see something new. I notice an area of subtle texture, a hint of color coming through, or a line that guides me to a new place within the painting. None of this was planned but is evidence of its history. It is like meeting someone for the first time; you see them standing before you, but, it is not until you get close that you get to know them, that you begin to see what is underneath.
Sometimes we have to listen to be able to truly see.