I Am a Rock

A winter’s day, in a deep and dark December
I am alone

It’s unquestionably December in the northern hemisphere. Darkness arrives around 4:30 pm. The actual temperature is below zero degrees Fahrenheit, most days bleak and overcast.  Gray, gray, gray; everywhere you look is gray. The most logical thing to do is to hibernate.

Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow

This sort of isolation is a year-round, everyday occurrence for the practicing visual artist. While many artists are by nature gregarious creatures, many are not, myself included. But one thing we all have in common is the solitude of our studio time.

Art critic Jerry Saltz says: “I always tell students, whatever you do, do not be an artist unless you absolutely, positively have to be an artist. No one tells you this, but it’s almost horrifying how much time you’re going to spend alone. It’s a nightmare. Art takes you away from yourself, of course, and it brings you to yourself. It’s a bridge to something else.” (Excerpt from The Art Rules by Paul Klein.)

I am a rock, I am an island
I‘ve built walls, A fortress steep and mighty
That none may penetrate

As a teenager, I listened to this newly released Paul Simon song, I Am a Rock, over and over, alone in the isolation of my room. Something about it resonated with me and at the time, but I just assumed it was related to the loneliness that comes with typical teenage angst.  However, at my advanced age, I realize the song was more a foreshadowing of the life I would one day live, a life within four walls of a quiet studio. In many ways, this song prepared me for these days, not just for the painting, but also reading, writing, meditating, and – epic  staring and contemplation.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me…

My method of painting is intuitive, working without idea or plan, laying down paint until something emerges.  In recent weeks, large rock forms have entered into the work. They come through me onto the panel, but from where and for what reason, I do not know.  Is it about the permanence and solidity of rock? Is it the nuances of earthy colors that appeal to me?  Often times I do not know why any given image has come out until days, weeks, months or sometimes even years pass. Sometimes others will point out things about my work that I did not see, and when I reevaluate the piece, it is always enlightening. As far as these rock paintings go, for now I am thinking they are about introversion.  Time will tell me more. They are a bridge to something else.

I am a rock
I am an island

Untitled work in progress, 30" x 30"
Untitled work in progress, 30″ x 30″

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *