Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing
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I stopped. Suddenly I flung open my arms. I called out, “No! I’m vibrant!” And with that, everything became alive. A beautiful thin maple with delicate green leaves was on the corner. If I leaned my head in the right direction, a cloud was in the center of the tree. I moved my head several times to see the cloud appear and disappear. I turned and saw a friend farther down the block. She had found her spot and was walking back and forth. Just then, in early morning, the phone rang. A friend from
called La Baie des Anges (Bay of the Angels). I’d let the picture sink into my whole body. I didn’t worry whether it fed my writing or painting part; it fed all of me. I recalled a fight I once had with a lover. We left each other angry. The next day I took a long walk, looked up at the aspens, saw how their leaves had changed. It is October, I said to myself. I stopped at a local grocery, bought an apple, took a big bite out of it and turned the corner to my street. I hadn’t thought of my lover
for a moment all afternoon; yet when I got home I went directly to the phone, picked up the receiver and called. “Let’s make up. I miss you,” I said. I had moved into a new open space. In this same way, I would call painting back into my life. Roshi was gone. I needed everything that could nurture me. Striped Chair, 2004 LESSON NINE Go to a museum or a gallery. Choose one room and walk around to study each painting. Need an incentive? You get to take home one painting in that room.
do I derive the most pleasure? Well, one good way would be to become friends with three or four paintings: Oh, yes, I know that one! Then the atmosphere won’t feel so foreign, I told myself. Now when I saw a painting I was drawn to, I just stood before it. After all, this painting must have taken Matisse a long time to paint, I thought, not to mention a whole lifetime of practice behind him, so the least I could do was stand before it for three full minutes. It was surprising to me how long a
If you hadn’t noticed, Roshi died. There’s no one here. There’s nothing to hold on to. Go out there into open space and be born again in a whole different way.” I knew that what was happening to me couldn’t be understood through logic—or through therapy, either. I had to go to an empty white canvas and find out what was within me. I also knew that what I was looking at in the pages of Diebenkorn’s book took a whole lifetime to develop. If I wanted to paint like that, I’d have to give it