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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Painting with Bug Blood, Week VI: The Straight and Narrow

I am beginning to appreciate the smell
After the three day hangover that was Abstract Expressionism, I was in no hurry to repeat the experiment. Yet I feel some pressure to do exactly that, because the response to that piece was more enthusiastic than all the rest combined. We are only halfway through the series, and I don't want the energy to flag. Nor do I want to end up face down in an alley, which is where I'm headed if I continue in that direction. This week's challenge was to capture the excitement without the physical side effects, and I vowed to do it the old-fashioned way: with hard work.

Watching an interesting programme
Good living starts in the morning. I got up early, made some soy milk,  and went for a run. I saw children walking to school, crocuses sprouting on front lawns all down my street, and a dog getting hit by a train. As soon as I got home I showered and tried out my new cucumber face mask. My skin these days is so nice it hardly feels like my face. While I waited for the mask to dry I put on my favourite sweatshirt and watched morning talk shows. My mind felt limpid, very limpid. During the commercials I made a fresh pot of bug blood, which has become something of a ritual for me. I am even beginning to appreciate the smell.

Eight blooms on this baby
I took it to the window and contemplated this week's subject, my orchid. My goal was to capture its essence before I kill it with ineptitude. Unfortunately, I arrived at just the right time of day, and the way the light fell on it was ungodly beautiful. I knew I couldn't paint it - I'd only make a hash of it. Normally that doesn't matter, but my orchid is special. I poked around the house for something a little uglier, but nothing stuck. We are babysitting my girlfriend's parents' cat, but he had only arrived the day before and still wouldn't come out from under the couch. I jabbed him a few times with a piece of doweling and then gave up. I felt a bit too limpid. Slowly thoughts of wine crept into my head.

Gew├╝rztraminer?
I had not realized dependencies could grow so quickly. Somehow between this week and the last wine had become inextricably linked with notions of public notoriety and artistic integrity. I fought back by thinking of how much more productive clean livers are in the long run. Finally my soul ransomed me and promised no paintings until I had at least a glass. I realized that clean livers are more likely to drink white wine than red, and compromised. We had a stash put aside for Easter, and I made a mental note to refresh it before the weekend.
 

The strawberries were bland
Brilliant ideas now came easily to me. I returned to my seat with renewed purpose and applied myself to one of them. After several glasses I was beginning to feel lightheaded, but I did not forget my purpose. Comparing the results with last week, I can only guess that different grape varietals act upon the psyche in subtle ways. While last week I struggled with an acute sense of turpitude, white wine made my neck itchy. Also, this time I worked from a model, which may account for the difference:






The model
The still life

Check back next week for more bug blood art!

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