A month or so ago, I met up with one of the artists who shows at my mom and dad's Laguna Beach gallery. She's an abstract painter named Jong Ro, and I think she's a bit of a genius. I was hoping she'd be willing to give me a lesson or two. I would have loved to just watch her apply paint and get some ideas. She's shy and guarded, her English isn't fluid, and she didn't light up to the idea of lessons. But she did talk to me a bit about her approach to her work and gave me some great insights. She also invited me to show her my work when I felt stuck or needed criticism. One of the main things she kept saying was: "Don't be afraid to paint over what you already have. These paintings take time. They change. Don't get stuck in one layer. Paintings take many layers to become what they are supposed to become. Don't be afraid of ruining what you already have. Make a new line. Take a risk." Or something like that.
This made me think a lot about life...and transformation. Who wants to just stay the same? We are always getting better, even when some stages feel messy and we begin to regret our risks and mistakes. These are the layers we need in order to get to the next level. I knew I was attracted to the practice of abstract painting in this season for my own reasons, but this added a whole new layer. Since then I've been trying to keep Jong's words in mind, to not be afraid to paint over what once seemed a 'favorite' part...the part of the painting that one day seemed so strong can the next, be the part that holds me back. It's an exercise in letting go.
I made a drawing that at first I really loved a few weeks ago...I wish I'd taken more photos of the process because it is surely unrecognizable now. But I'll offer here what I do have: a drawing...a mid-place...and then after covering the whole frustrating thing up, a development that I think I'll keep. Along the way, as I saw paths (or roads or bridges) emerging, I thought of calling the piece: "We Were Never Lost." Then, in covering it up, I returned to my uncompleted theme of broken bones (again, a pelvis, which was my husband's first significant fracture, but also represents 'the seat of the emotions' in a body, so lots of symbols to work with here.) The result is very different than where I started, but I like all that yellow light filling the bowl. As Leonard Cohen wrote: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. "
In the end, I'm keeping the title...because despite all its twists and turns and my backtracking doubt, even this little painting was never lost. It was always on it's way. Note to self.