Painting

Mercury is in Retrograde?

The last few days have seemed to have a theme, summed up by a passing comment from a guy on the elevator: “Mercury is in retrograde, man.” Not 100% true (retrograde starts Feb. 6 if you are interested in that) (I’m not, but I decided to check it out to see if I really could explain anything: http://www.almanac.com/content/mercury-retrograde), but you get the idea.

“When Mercury is retrograde, remain flexible, allow time for extra travel, and avoid signing contracts. Review projects and plans at these times, but wait until Mercury is direct again to make any final decisions.” – 2014 Farmer’s Almanac

Without going into the messier aspects of the last few days, last night when I started a new painting I had an unexpected thing happen. It was easy. The last few months of my painting have felt like nothing was going right. That isn’t to say that I’m not pleased, but it has felt like it takes endless tweaking to get anywhere.

Two hours into "Sizing up the Competition"
Two hours into “Sizing up the Competition”

As sketched out my work, chose colors, and quickly applied paint last evening I felt a deep suspicion about what was going on. Why was this moving so quickly?

There are a couple reasons the painting is going fast at this stage: it’s realistic (no existential decisions) and it has big shapes. When I get to the details, things will slow down. But I think there is something else going on.

I went to a training this morning on “conflict resolution in the workplace.”  At the top of the first handout, this quote appears:

“We all are of two minds about conflict. We say that conflict is natural, inevitable, necessary and normal, and that the problem is not the existence of conflict but how we handle it. But we are also loath to admit that we are in the midst of conflict.” – Berhard Mayer, PhD

As an emerging artist, conflict has a place in my work. I get to a certain stage in my work and I don’t know what I want. I try new things to discover my style, voice, and needs. Sometimes I do what the teacher says, sometimes I go my own way.

The last few months have been filled with (most successful) experiments: Abstracts, Tissue Pouring, Ice Painting, and Yupo. All of these required learning techniques.

With this painting I’m returning to straight watercolor. Those experiments will help me in a future work; they may even help me in this work. But for right now, I’ll keep it straightforward…. because you just can’t trust that Mercury.