I have decided to begin on February 24st, a good New Moon time to begin any venture. Plus this would be the JH + AA anniversary date, which bodes well.
Not that I have not begun already - I have spent much time poring over various books, documents, so as to get a technical sense of what I am undertaking. Am also sketching out a schedule. The wood has all been found - the last difficult thing involves ordering the materials, which has involved poring over a vast, often confusing website - True Blue Art's supplier - so as to ascertain what is really essential, not just for the oil painting process, but for rewards fulfillment. The last slightly difficult thing before actively beginning will be the wood prep process which I supposedly will have little or nothing to do with.
So saying, would like to briefly share my thoughts about what I hope to capture, from an artistic perspective, in this project:
- full, total immersion: the artistic benefits of subjecting oneself to full immersion beat almost any other attempt at skill and crafts acquisition. From instructors assigning 3 paintings a week, on top of other projects, art students come to learn the inevitable rhythm of creation. As well, Gladwell's writings give food for thought: 10,000 hours of focused practice creates a foundation for mastering any complex skill. In particular, what interests me about immersion is what happens when you reach a point of saturation (always happens - you want to throw the thing as far away as you possibly can), you find it in yourself to work through it - and come to find you've achieved a huge breakthrough, and broken through a previously unbreakable plateau.
- absentee mentorism: in a word, I would like the experience of learning from a true master's process. Obviously JMW Turner is no longer with us - however much can be gleaned from following his process, from his first paintings which still had some of the dark atmospheric weight of El Greco works, through to those works in his last years which come to resemble Chagall. This is an artist who left more than 500 oils, 2,000 watercolours and more than 20,000 sketches to posterity - thus the surprising divergence from his earliest styles to his latest cannot surprise. By painting each work chronologically, I hope to experience in true flesh some of the stylistic processes and even psychological changes he might have undergone, leading him to his maturation as an artist.
- daily discipline: I seek, through this project, to embrace a challenge requiring most of my time and attention, with a stated goal and time period. This project will be my version of an Iron Man marathon or NaNoWriMo or a Buddhist meditative retreat. All these differ widely in aims and results, but have a similar aim: to temper impatience and mold the temperament in service of something larger. I understand that at some point the process will seem burdensome, tiresome, and even unnecessary. Some days will bring obstacles in my way which will seemingly prevent the daily production. No matter - the obstacles must be borne. Part of what's so spectacular about tying this project to a fundraising campaign involves the stakes involved - over 60 people have hedged their bets on my ability to complete this enterprise - this will 'keep me honest', and provide that needed kick to get me going when I really really want to quit!
- art history: I would like to learn more about this artist, about his personal life and how it intersects with his creativity, and how all of this was formed by and helped shape the larger world he inhabited in 19th century Britain. I am sure to find out that, though things are radically different in his Britain than they are in 21st century Madison County, NC, many similarities - cultural, economical, creative, etc - also exist. More than that, I would like to find out exact pointers regarding his style, habits, techniques, process, etc.
I also have serious reservations - the biggest one being an inability to come through. Branching off that big one, other little fears crop up when thinking about this project - that I have overshot my mark and that my designs are wildly impractical, that force majeure prevents the completion of this project, that 70% of it will be garbage and not worth looking at, that I will go crazy with the process, that the generous backers will come to seriously regret their generosity, etc - thousands of things. But in the end, as in life, fears must be borne as best one can and brushed aside when the time comes to work.
For today's image I submit a fun portrait our friend and local Appalachian artist, Freddie Henderson, made of me when he found my article in the local paper. Freddie's a cool and talented guy, and has overwhelmed me with wood besides! In particular these cool rounds, cross sections of trees on his property, which I MUST find a way to integrate.