I wish I could post every Tuesday like clockwork but when a thought pops in to my head, I gotta put it down. This is an extension of the last post, the scrape, toss, save or sell part, but I have to back way up first. About 25 years ago I was on a ski trip in Utah, not Deer Valley but the other one. On a Saturday I wandered downtown to give my legs a break and avoid the weekend crowds. There was an exhibition of paintings in a local gallery so I thought, hey, I’m a painter, I’ll just have a look see. Walking in the door I was presented with a series of small studies with much larger versions done from the little ones hanging alongside. Blew me away. Scott Christensen. Gotta paint with that guy. Maybe a year later I found myself in a workshop with Mr. C and one of the greatest things he did was show an early painting of his that was… not so good. He had the humility to show us one of his first baddies, letting us all know that if he could come this far, that anyone can come that far. Not really that simple as it turns out but it was a really pivotal moment for me. Thank you for that Scott.
Somewhere along the line came the discussion about saving or tossing. Some we save to remind us of where we’ve come from, some we save for the information, some we sell, some we toss and I’ve tossed many. But to carry on the tradition of showing the crappy ones left over, I dug out a few. These were all done during the S.C. workshop maybe 20 years back. The really, really bad ones have already been pitched but I did find these. The top one has always held a warm place in my heart because while everyone was painting trees, I went after the port-o-let, which I thought was funny. It had a kind if butte like quality to it anyway. The rest have a high register on the cringeometer but at least I and you can see that I’ve made a little progress since then. This one looks like a forest of leggos. Clunky and awkward and butt ugly, but the point back then wasn’t the finish it was the doing. Still is. You have to learn how and where to put the notes before you can play the song in your head.
Now for a related story. I will admit it’s kind of a boy story with potty humor, but it relates to this workshop and the above painting. Scott held his workshops in his first house way back when, his studio was where we would meet and could watch him quietly put together a large painting from a study in a mere 4 or 5 hours. Very inspirational. The room was pin-drop quiet and filled with about 20 chairs, each chair filled with a person, Scott up there mixing colors, not saying much. You could hear the next persons nose whistle. By mid-morning I found that I had a searing pain running through my mid-region, apparently the cream chipped buffalo jerky and unwashed tomatillo salsa had created a reaction not unlike when you put baking soda in a coke bottle and screw the lid back on. Scott was mixing away and I was feeling like I was 9 months preggers with a small dragon so I started wondering where the nearest restroom was. There were only two choices, the one at the back of the room not 5 feet from the last row or the one in his bedroom. I was clearly not about to trash the bathroom of a guy whose work I admire and besides his pretty wife was there and how could explain to her my dilemma? I’d rather burst a portion of my intestine. Or I could just march unapologetically back to the echo chamber and just lettergo, coming back into the room to either dead silence or great applause with my hands held high. That’s right, uh huh, who’s the man. Or I could sit there in agony until 4 o’clock and wait for the long buss ride back to the car and the even longer car ride back to the hotel. And which did I do? I spent the day in agony doing the equivalent of keeping a pack of wild dobermans at bay behind an unlatched door, attempting to time the peristaltic convulsions with a clap or a loud cough, occasionally a short song or an emphatic statement of “HEY NOW”.
I guess the lesson there is to not always mistake a lookers on exclamations as just straight out enthusiasm for the work, you just don’t know what’s really behind it.