Lost in Colorado Wonder

Painting St. Elmo, Colorado, late night in the studio

I always laughed at the stories of Pablo Picasso working in his studio at 3 a.m.  Long ago, I lost the ability to pull all-nighters.  I miss them.  But this could be a late one.  I took a nap this evening (had a pretty miserable afternoon) and now am waking more as the hours roll by, and am getting lost in the rustic architecture of this Colorado mountain town.  I recall it as vividly as if it were yesterday.  Four of us were about to embark on a foolhardy trip over Tin Cup pass in a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4-wheel drive.  We made the trip, but I still think the decision was foolish.  I don’t bother to sport the bumper sticker “I Survived Tin Cup Pass”‘; I don’t take a lot of pride in doing that trip with a vehicle not quite cut out for it (Geez, 4-ply tires even!  What a fool).

I lingered around St. Elmo for quite a long time that afternoon, shooting my old 35mm camera, using Kodachrome slide film.  I’m glad I saved the slides, though technology in the schools has all but made them obsolete.  I don’t know how much longer this Kodak carousel projector is going to hold up.

I took a break from painting to read a bit (I’m re-reading Basquiat by Phoebe Hoban), and to look at this work-in-progress on an easel across the room from my man cave.  I like the habit of Andrew Wyeth, putting up his work so he could glance up at it while doing something else, or while entering a room, and thus get a snapshot impression of it to know what works, what doesn’t, and most of all, figure out when to quit the thing.  I’m making myself stop right now because I’ve crawled into the painting to the point that I’m focusing on all these minute details and forgetting to see the entire work, compositionally.  That’s how I lose a painting.  There is a haunting soliloquy in the motion picture Six Degrees of Separation, where Donald Sutherland muses over how it feels to “lose a painting.”  I have no words for this.  But I regret those countless times when, signing a painting, I sighed and admitted to myself that it “looked better a week ago.”  I pushed it too far.  Right now, I have questions about this Colorado painting, and so I’ve decided to set it aside while I muse over it, and meanwhile, continue reading Basquiat. 

Thanks always for reading.

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