Every mark on my current pen and ink seems etched into my cerebral cortex. I’m up to fifteen hours working on it, and, when I close my eyes, it’s still there, the set of an endless play that features just one actor, me. And no audience.
Writing and visual art fight for my attention, but during the school year, I don’t have obsessive time to paint or draw. Instead, my creative life is here. I write a post each weekend and add a new poem to derelict satellite. Mid-week, I try to edit work from Joe Felso and post it. I’ve been spotty lately. I’ve been doing visual art instead.
For me, words cover subjects. Sometimes they fit well and other times indifferently, but only occasionally do they rise to high style or costume. They rely on the body beneath. Were I a more talented writer, I think I might do more than tailor. But most of the time I hope for a clever cut, something to highlight or hide familiar and immutable features.
Paintings and drawings create themselves. I stare at a blank sheet of watercolor paper until it becomes something. I do abstracts, but even when my work is more representative, fidelity often drops away until the subject I clothe is a ghost. Pens and brushes know no choreography. They move as spirit moves them, largely independent of intention, and reveal more in abandon than anyone, including me, might like.
I’m not any better at visual art or writing, but people sometimes ask me which one I like more. Moment-to-moment answers occur to me. The same motive inspires both—to make the mental physical—but, when I write, my ideas are already waiting there. Writing is true to me, a wife I’m absolute devoted to. I’ve embraced our covenant and made it my work. I honor it as the engine of my growth and evolution.
Visual art is my mistress.
This week, I received an email from Zatista, my cyber art seller, asking me to update my site. I haven’t added anything in quite some time, in part because I’ve sold very little. But the other impediment is the writing associated with each piece. I don’t mind the scanning, uploading, or the straight describing, but messages beyond dimensions and media defy me. I look at each image and think, “What do I say about this?” It all seems made-up. My wife would rather not introduce my mistress.
And sometimes I’m embarrassed. I think I could do without this second compulsion, might do more in my writing without another distraction, and wonder if, ultimately, these abstracts are indulgences that need hiding.
In the fall, I’m having an art show at my school. It will be another coming out, another airing of my sordid infidelity. I want to be proud and say “This is me,” but perhaps it’s the nature of visual art to reveal its author more fundamentally. That’s scary. There’s less dressing up, less hiding in folds and pleats and seams.
My mistress will be on display. I’ll be inside out and wondering how that can be flattering.