my first watercolors; dead fish in Door County, Wisconsin.
Sometimes, I just withdraw from everything and pretend I'm something else. I need to do this for my own sake… As best I can recall, the last real vacation I went on was 1997 – a week in Wisconsin, a jutting peninsula defining the eastern edge of Green Bay, known as Door County. It's a place I used to go in a previous iteration of myself, long before my life spiraled off on paths and tangents I never wanted to take.
Going there I only had one thought; that I was going to paint with watercolors, even though I'd never actually done it before. Sometimes in life I just pretend I'm something else with abilities I don't really have, but imagine I'm capable of just the same…
It's my time out, and I need those because I know I am juvenile in some fundamental respects. I realized long ago that being around others and being influenced by the way things are done damages me and often turns me into a bit of an asshole. Or at least a person I don't really admire. I discovered it first in Architecture school, realizing that the bar was lower than I'd imagined, or at least not anything that was beyond my basic problem solving skills, and in a short time, I gave up on paying attention to projects in lieu of figuring out strategies for simply completing them and coming as close to deadlines as I possibly could. It's a cop-out and a disservice to the bigger picture, I think now.
Sometimes beautiful things in life come along that totally change you. They always seem to in mine, and I think that really I'm nothing special, other than being tuned to a slightly different frequency, and maybe lucky that I see them. They are the things that make me realize that being alone and slightly isolated is a better place, and that doing things my own way is the only way I'm meant to do them. Because sometimes I come across things, influences, people, who totally blow my mind, and I think I want to emulate them and embody those characteristics that I admire. Only then do I realize I can't do that either. l can and will only ever be me, even though I pretend to have abilities or traits I don't actually possess with a high degree of proficiency.
This really has nothing to do with anything, other than a small glimpse into my thoughts, why I have to withdraw, be blank for a while and do nothing, pretend I'm something else, because it's the only respite I really have. My brain chatters at me like my cat does at crows outside the window…
Getting back to watercolors and painting and art, I remember happening upon some esoteric debate a while ago about whether cooking is a craft or an art. I don't know that there's really an answer to it – it's a situational ethic sort of question, perhaps – meaningless to try and convince one side that the other one is totally correct, or needs to be.
It is a craft. Something that anyone can do with an amazing degree of proficiency and skill if they ever put their mind and heart into it. But there are moments when I think it's not only an art, but the only real one that exists. Maybe better said, it's the most complete aesthetic experience.
I started pondering this when I again dragged out water colors and began painting a bit – only after experimenting first with items I could dredge up; painting with coffee and a cigarette filter stuffed into the end of a straw for a makeshift brush. Painting with moss from my deck, beer, rust rubbed off of my smoker. A self portrait done with Guinness stout and steak sauce in a pub. The odd thing about real paints, and other media is that, while the colors are vibrant and intoxicating to look at, they all smell funny. Of things like clay, binders, oils, odd chemicals that my nose doesn't want to associate with them.
Cooking spoils you in a way that nothing else does or ever could. Everything has a color – a red pepper, a green pepper, onions, shallots, the flesh of various meats, fats, milk… and every color has a scent and a life of its own; brown, savory, sultry, thick, succulent; red, piquant, bright, sweet, astringent; green, earthy, raw… Beyond that, they have texture, smells, and colors that always change – whether it's because you've left bananas on the counter too long, or because you've done something beyond neglecting it; a planned introduction of heat, cure or drying to change it.
Food is completely sensual. It's never solely taken in through the eyes like a painting on a wall. It's not like music where it's only coming in through the ears. It's touched, held, coddled, picked, raised, harvested, manipulated. It's consumed and it literally becomes you. It has a sound, a texture, a color, smell. You experience it with all of your senses. You feel it, see it, hear it, smell it, taste it. It's the only thing I've found that completely touches every part of me, that rewards one for being sensitive and inquisitive.
Maybe it's why I don't understand why more people don't actually cook, or make their own food – or at least pretend that they might be able to…
still experimenting with drawing media; a bartender at the pub from this evening…