“June 23rd” (96″x48″) oil on board
A few years ago, from November to March, not a trace of new work could be found in my studio. For five months I stared at a blank canvas. For twenty one weeks, nothing. For one hundred and fifty days, blank.
Not for lack of interest, I was dying to paint something. It’s just, nothing was coming out. The more days passed, the more angry I became. The more weeks passed, the more anxious I became. And, the more months that passed, the more terrified I became.
I was engulfed with pure panic that I had lost it. Painting has always been at my center. Even early in school, while I struggled at some of the more straight-forward subjects, I always excelled in studio art.
Reading… was very difficult. To this day I have never actually read a whole book. For real. In grammar school, for the school play, when all the roles were assigned, I was given the role of “Chicken.” This consisted of sitting on the edge of the stage, dangling my feet in a huge chicken suit. Not one line.
Back in my studio, as the pressure rose, my confidence shrunk. Till one day, in my studio, when fear and panic had taken over, even in my dreams, I grabbed The Norton Anthology of Poetry and opened randomly to John Keats’, “When I have Fears that I may cease to be”. Then, I noticed a book on one of my favorite painters of all time, J.M.W. Turner. I opened, randomly, to “Peace-Burial at Sea”. I said, screw it, loaded up a brush full of my favorite color, walked up to the 36″x36″ blank canvas, which was like walking down a long plank, and made a random mark in the top left corner.
Then, the pressure squealed out and I was calm again. No plan, just “Peace-Burial at Sea” burnt into my brain, and “When I have Fears” bringing up the rear. And this landscape style is the result. The page which holds, “Peace-Burial at Sea” is still open in my studio to this day. It reminds me of how this all started – with a grueling five months of pressure and fear. I think, as it turns out, it was worth it in the end. The work that was born was different from what I had ever painted before that November.
I memorized John Keats’ poem, “When I have Fears that I may cease to be”, and sometimes recite it out loud as I walk to my studio in the morning.
Below is J.M.W. Turner’s “Peace-Burial at Sea”
To read John Keats’ poem, “When I have Fears that I may cease to be”, check out my second post. There’s a reason why I posted that poem.
To read the poem visit my second post, “When I have Fears that I may cease to be”
To see my work visit, Boston Landscape Painter