Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Johnny Depp Factor

Anybody ever heard of him?? Well, he's done a few good things; Edward Scissors Hands, Chocolat. Don Juan DeMarco, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland just to name a few of his credits.. For me what sets work apart is his choices of magical, quirky and enchanted films.

When I think of choosing what to paint, I think of seeing an ordinary day through extraordinary glasses. Seeing things in a heightened mode, through an innocent eye. It's those days when you walk outside and see the same green trees that you've seen a thousand times before, but something makes you notice them in a different way.  You feel as if you've never, ever seen anything so very green. And that day when the sky could not possibly ever have been quite so blue. Cultivating the idea of watching the world through enchanted eyes is not something that is very grown up nor always very acceptable in polite company. Maybe that's what being an eccentric artist is really all about? I don't know. But I do know, as I get older, the value of seeing the world through my own unique lens.

Cultivating enchantment and finding deeper mystery, beauty, meaning in each day, moment, breath. This is our job. No? So finding pathways to this stuff is part of it. Listening, watching and waiting for it. Lingering for that extra few moments in the parking lot of the grocery store when you feel the breeze pass by in just that particular way...Conjuring up a story from the shadows under a tree in your backyard. Letting yourself believe in fairy tales, if just for a few moments.

We have little magic and mystery in our daily lives, so we have to work on finding it, manufacturing it if you will. Sort of like going to the gym; our bodies need to move and we don't have to do it, so we need to manufacture activity for our bodies to stay fit. Likewise we have to cultivate enchantment to have our minds recognize it. Otherwise the pace of modern culture will whip past us and leave us drab and bored. We look to popular culture to entertain us, but really we could just look a little deeper and REALLY entertain ourselves. It's all there, we just have to remember to look!

My recipe for finding enchantment; be present, stay alert, watch and wait and then don't think too much, just feel it. When you've got those goose bumps, you know it's there...Now take that feeling, hold it and go paint. Hopefully, you have some stuff to paint or draw with. Maybe you've only got a napkin and a ball point pen! Everybody has their own recipe, just like a good soup, you have to have a good base then adjust the seasonings!

Most of the art that I really admire is of a simple scene or gesture or idea. Take Degas, capturing a glance a shadow, a breath. Most great painters captured reminders of our humanity or consciousness. Small things made large and usual things made unusual.  Artists like Dan McCaw, Wolf Kahn and Russell Chatam come to my mind. Even guys like Jeff Koons could fit here. Of course this dovetails into a greater discussion of what is art and what are our jobs as artists! So it goes!

Lastly, I'm starting a new blog that focuses on my figurative work and my collaboration process with my husband Mike. Should be an interesting and different kind of journey...More to come on that. I'll be continuing to post here of course!


Karen F. Rose said...

Ah Marla could you hear my gigantic sighhhhhhh as I read your blog post.
Thank you for sharing and giving voice to the need for finding enchantment and mystery in our painting vision...your words and wisdom such welcome advice.

Sonia chapman said...

Brilliant Marla, you are like a breath of fresh air.