Awe-some!

Last year a previously undiscovered canyon in the Jefferson Wilderness was accessed by a team of adventurers. Their trek was televised by Oregon Field Guide. We watch while they negotiate waterfall after waterfall. Forty feet, thirty feet, two one-hundred-foot waterfalls meet in a pool—nine waterfalls in all, with a glacier-blue glow. Steep canyon walls of gray and black basalt reach to the translucent sky.

The voyagers name this place Valhalla. They speak of its spirituality. Strikingly beautiful. Jaw-dropping.  The cameraman says they feel “wonderfully small” with this rare perspective. It was described as surreal landscape full of “violent” greens– bright greens, mid greens, dark greens, mint greens, greens everywhere– rock formations–rushing water, icy blue–infinite, sparkling color and texture. They are overwhelmed by the beauty of this never-before-seen place. They grope for words to sum up what they see. They say: “it’s Like a painting”.

Reverently describing one of Mother Nature’s greatest works as “like a painting”?! Yowza—the power of painting!

Last weekend at a meeting of artists and art-lovers the relevance of painting in the contemporary art world was discussed. One remark that brought a smile was when someone named Tad reminded the group that paint is a “medium”. A medium–(from Merriam Webster): a means of effecting or conveying something (1) :  a substance regarded as the means of transmission of a force or effect (2) :  a surrounding or enveloping substance (3) :  the tenuous material (as gas and dust) in space that exists outside large agglomerations of matter (as stars). And of course, I thought of a séance.

Stars. Communicating with the dead. Transmission of a force or effect. In other words, MAGIC! Paint is no less for me. A joy to handle, to squeeze, to dance, play and party with—pouring dripping, scumbling, slathering, dusting, drawing—drawing in terms of rendering and drawing in terms of drawing out—paint is a powerful medium. It can open rooms, worlds, hearts and minds—not the least of which is the painter’s.

When approaching the endeavor of “painting” it might pay to forgo the image of yourself painting something to be judged, to impress or wow–LET THAT GO! There is too much of that. And, as a child might, be aware that there is magic and possibility in the medium at your fingertips. Children want to “see what will happen”. Try that approach. Stay with it even when it is uncomfortable and unlikely that the result will turn out ok. You may find enough in the doing to ultimately feel that the experience was “awe-some”.

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