Progress: the hill, the mesa and the defile

I continue to refer to the drawing-seeds that began this body of work, the tiny thumbnails I sketched a year ago by scratching out mental health forms with a ball-point pen. (I’ve published these seeds elsewhere on this blog.) These seeds are my guide in this work. They give both the scent of the high desert and the light of my inner Jerusalem, and in that way remind me of the mystery I’m pursuing through paint. The hard contrast, the heavy hand, the flat, almost aggressive space, and the child’s simplicity of these seeds have all fed further investigation, forming the roots of a vocabulary that is gestating as the paintings progress.

Today I felt comfortable using the blunt language I’ve developed for approximating rock, overwriting painterly areas with heavy black line. I’m building the stage for the tiny narrative of this particular seed–the flight of crows above the high desert.

It occurred to me while painting this gathering storm, the third or fourth I’m creating in this body of work, that the sky I’m representing here is an inner space as well–the cloud-form of a kind of feeling, a kind of grace this mesa gives.

I’m looking forward to building these blocks. Painting is such a difficult master if I let it; the relationship between technique and intuitive action is one I have to negotiate every time I face my work.

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