Painting water, eating corn

My brother Grier. Photograph by Mike Carroll

My brother Grier. Photograph by Mike Carroll

Today I’m painting the swirling patterns in a creek bed.  The last time I actually looked at those patterns was back in March, so at this point they are no longer observational, but instead an abstraction meant to create a mood in the viewer—the mood you’d find yourself in if you were standing in a voluptuous body of water and it moved around you in small surges and eddies.  And the sun was beaming down on it to add hypnotic patterns all around.  That’s some pretty vaunted prose for what I actually turn around and see on the canvas.  There is much to be done to make it do what I want it to.  My son, Gordon, is particularly fond of this painting because it explores some of my “weirder” ideas and pretty much walks off and leaves reality behind.  Paintings like this are more fun to paint.  I long ago became bored with the landscape reproduced as it most often is:   technically predictable,  aping reality.  All those paintings look like they’re by the same artist.   They’re missing the weirdness.  They lack the intensity of a real relationship to what one sees.

Background music for painting swirling water patterns:Etta James.  Especially the sulky ones with attitude.  I guess that pretty much means all of them. And Herbie Hancock, triggering the brain, surging and eddying as he does.

So that is what constitutes this day, along with the newsworthy arrival of the first ripe tomatoes from the farm, and the first of the amazing corn my brother grows and my sister-in-law sells at the Bradford Store.  Tonight there will be the classic summer feast to celebrate this moment in the cycle of things.  I will soon be missing the fresh spinach, cabbage and  lettuces, but they will be replaced by the mid summer tomatoes, corn and cantaloupe, and they in turn by the fall flavors.

Late afternoon I’ll be cleaning out the debris around the foundation of the smokehouse so my brother can clear it up with a loader and a carpenter can look at it for repairs.  The smokehouse is currently supported by the walnut tree it leans against.  We may set it right.  Life on the edge…

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