expect the unexpected

Working with Chinese inks on plastic paper has been bringing some interesting surprises, the most fun when I am just loosely holding an idea while the inks behave as inks do. There are certain boundaries I set, and then there are outer boundaries at work (like gravity, and viscosity). But the fun comes in the unexpected finish. I am working together in a sort of duet with these materials, and I rarely know what is going to happen next.

I do have a plan. I need to get 17 pieces done for a showing in November. I have been studying through Emily Dickinson’s work for a couple years, just finished. And lately I have been tracking through the emotional journey of another poet and prophet: Jeremiah the Hebrew. Just today I gave a lecture to students about how Michelangelo saw himself as Jeremiah—at least he chose that singular brooding figure on which to place his own resemblance in the Sistine chapel program. And there was a lot about that project that was a huge struggle for Michelangelo. He wrote about the days when his neck hurt and the plaster was all over him, and he doubted his ability. Oh, but the results.

Time moves. It is all ground for more work to be done until that set moment when all the work is done. I love the finish. But I am learning to enjoy the stretched out surprises in time too, and part of my reason is because I am not the one in charge.

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