Let me begin by saying that I'm pretty sure the average artist as tortured soul is a myth, and that there are equally as many tortured taxi drivers and accountants. (If I was an accountant I know I would be.) That said, I certainly seem to field more than my fair share of angst. There seem to be major cycles, usually punctuated by minor skirmishes, but for the most part I think my work refects my sunnier moods. Maybe that's a mistake. It's like I'm trying to create an up cycle by sheer force of will and sometimes I just need to ride the down cycles. Maybe, if I accept myself a little more, apply a little more zen, I'll actually learn something.
This painting has been working its way out of me for a couple of weeks now. I have balked every step of the way and it has not been a pleasure. It started life as a pleasant spring thing, painted to exist alongside my other cottage paintings: a couple of cheerful houses in an old neighbourhood, comfortable in their skins and their companionship. Yeah, right. I finally accepted it for what it is and finished it yesterday in the turbulent grey tones of a spring storm on the west coast. Even then, I tried to cheer it up a little, probably because I felt that I needed the cheering up, with tulips and birdies and blossoms and the like. The only thing missing is fluffy kitties peering through the curtains. I haven't varnished it yet, so I'm tempted now to go back and paint out my sad attempts at positive thinking and really pour on the storm clouds and create some wind, so to speak. But then it occurred to me that this innocuous-looking painting is a perfect reflection of what I'm up against right now: a failed attempt at painting a happy face on a grizzly bear. A reflection of that struggle between yin and yang. Since it's not the kind of artwork most people will want for their dining room (too gloomy) or their wood-panelled study (too cheerful) maybe I need to keep it around as a reminder that I can't control everything.