Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On the Job, Part ____.

I was painting a small sandblasted glass vessel, blending an opaque color (in oils) with a translucent color. Our very present 6'10" painter-man, who has been christened Little G., said that he was fascinated by how we blended the colors.

"It's crazy-brain-making," I told him.

"How's that?" he said, "because it's hard to do?"

I had to think about this. No, it wasn't hard to do, once I got the technique down. But there's an element of blending opaque/translucent color into a seamless gradated tonal flow— generally from dark to light — that messes with my brain.

This wasn't easy to explain, and I hadn't, until then, given it much thought. Just one of those things that elicited an internal grumble from me each time I had to face it. A succession of questions began to spring to mind, prompting a very introspective discussion:

When/where does blindness transform to vision?
Where does the invisible become seen?
Light become dark?
Yes become no?
At what point on the horizon does cloudy become clear?
Is there a line where yin becomes yang, and vice versa?

The task of explaining why this was crazy-making was exponentially more difficult than the painting itself!

The vessel — vase, actually — was finished, finally, a deep gold blending to a sun-yellow blending to zinc white. Translucent at the base, opaque along the top rim. And somewhere along the body of that small piece of glass, somewhere undefinable, unmappable — the lights inside those colors transmuted.

I stopped my grumbling, glad for the ponderings in that I was forced to reckon with the source of my discontent, and in the process discovered that, once I stripped away the mechanics of the task, what remained was actually a more poetic/philosophical curiosity about the nature of seeing.

More than anything, this exploration into the why & how of color blending proved a dramatic contrast to the Stygian mood of yesterday's courtroom drama. And though I tried, in my consciousness, to blend the two together into merely a progression from a dark day to one that was light-filled, I failed.

No matter how hard I try to extend the metaphor, sometimes a courtroom is just a courtroom, and an afternoon spent painting is just that: painting.

In the end, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that this previously-dreaded painting task was, really, not so unpleasant after all. That it was, in fact, rather delightful, all things considered.


  1. two very different days, for sure. I like the illustration of them as an example for the gradations of color on the glass. Life mimicking art, or vise versa?

    1. ...or perhaps somewhere between the two?!

  2. ". . . At what point on the horizon does cloudy become clear?
    Is there a line where yin becomes yang, and vice versa?"

    I am going to contemplate these two questions!

    As to the word 'Stygian' for your surreal and unsettling courtroom drama --- am relieved you have made your way back across that particular river, T.

    Love, C xo

  3. Our seeing, in the exterior and interior, - and how do we separate seeing from knowing? - is where any answers will be found. A thought this morning about the need to journal, in varying fonts, to make visible what I know to be true and try to find anything else belonging in that category which may have been hidden. xo