But we did have a rare gorgeous sunny day last week, and everybody in the neighborhood seemed to be taking advantage to do some landscaping. The sound of lawn mowers, chainsaws, and cheerful voices of children was carried on the breeze coming in through my window: that stirring music for plants, the music that makes them dance away into the summer and sway their lush summer dresses until they shake them off in the fall.
Gardens are beautifully mysterious to me, and in a different life I would love to be a gardener. In this life I totally lack a green thumb, but still I have an intimate relationship with plants and I could never live without them around me. It just becomes challenging and complicated when plants depend on me for their survival. Perhaps one day – when I am old and stooped and all I can see is the ground – I may pick up the rake and shovel. Until then I will do my gardening in my imagination, and transfer my ideas onto paper.
For my new Hyperbotanics painting I used a sketch from my archive of stamp-size sketches (see photo on the right). The reason I opted for miniature sketches is that they don’t allow me to lose myself in detail before the general composition is finalized, and I can look at the image as if I am looking at it from a distance.
I enlarged the tiny sketch, traced it on my light table, developed the basic sketch into a final sketch, then transferred it onto a sheet of Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper and stretched the paper on a drawing board: a new artwork had come to life. It will take me another week or so to work on it, so in my next post you will most likely see the finished painting.
Besides, why copy nature (or why copy at all) when you can see it with your own eyes whenever you want to? You cannot see the plants that grow in my mind unless I paint them. And I want you to see those plants, because it may help you to see what is happening in your own mind when you have an idea.
Everything takes shape in the mind before we can actually see it. The chair you want to buy at Ikea is already in your mind before you head out to the store. The creative process is similar to buying a chair: the idea is already there – although the outlines may be vague – it just needs to be turned into something real. The problem with the chair-buying process is that often enough the original idea doesn’t by far match reality, because the chair you had in mind doesn’t exist. You can go to a different store, only to come to the same conclusion.
At this point you can either go back to Ikea or you make a painting of your dream chair. When you paint the chair there are no boundaries, you can have any chair you want, the way I can create any garden I want. The only inconvenience of a chair on paper is that you can’t sit on it, the way I can’t really sit in my fantasy garden…But that is just an insignificant detail.
Amazing Thrift Store Finds
Book: Speaking of Art. Hard cover. Phaidon, 2010.
Retail value: $39.95
Thrift store price: $2.55
The book is a collection of transcripts of recorded interviews with leading international artists. The interviews were conducted between 1974 and 2006 by William Furlong, the founder of Audio Arts, a British audiocassette magazine. To name a few of the artists that are being interviewed: Philip Glass, John Cage, Richard Hamilton, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein.
The book is organized like an audio cassette, with a side A and a side B. You actually have to flip the book to read side B. Beautiful linear design, and fascinating, eye-opening interviews.