The annoyances of oil paint

T-Thump t-thump t-thump t-thump. T-Thump t-thump t-thump t-thump. The beat sets my mind in sync with the song. The bass keeps rhythm. A lighter atmospheric sound joins in, then a voice begins to sing. I step in time to the beat as I walk across the room. A faster beat steps in, adding to the thump thump thump thump keeping time. My mind falls into the state I’m trying to induce, like clockwork. Nothing but me, my intention and the music.

My hands set to work, and an image assembles itself in my head, picking up its fragments since the last time I was in the space. I start mixing, I start eyeing the different components, picking out all the little details I’m not satisfied with. I think, ‘if I do just this, it’ll be good’. But then a minute later I say, ‘No something is still off’. I step back. I look at my source image. I look some more. And I look even more. Then I look at my image. I examine angles, shapes, negative spaces, proportions. I look back and forth. I say, okay I think ‘it’s this that’s off. I go to fix it. I fix it. I compare again. I think, ‘Nooo there’s something else. I must observe some more’. I repeat this process a few times. Before I know it 4 hours have passed. I stop to eat. I get back to work with my focus maintained. After some time, I go to the bathroom. At the beginning of this short journey, I think, ‘I can’t wait to get back to my painting’. It seemed my body was caught up to the new activity but my mind was still there. After I flush the toilet (and wash my hands!) and begin to walk back, I think my realisation, ‘ok I’m hungry’. So then I look at the time. I am surprised. It’s now the afternoon. I go to heat up my food. Then I remember, I had some things to do today: the busywork and paper stuff that always feels like an interruption. So, I set about doing that. Halfway through, I stuff my face. I keep thinking of the painting by looking at it. I’m thinking in the background of my thoughts, ‘it’s too complicated now because I added too many elements’. I keep glancing. During one glance I realise, I know what to do. I feel a surge of triumph. Today is miraculous because I didn’t have many things written down. I remember to go back to the painting. Then once I’ve changed the thing I noticed a bit before, I stop. I have to let it dry before I do the next step. I was working on it all day, thinking today, I’ll just do this and it will be done. But as is often the case, I am proven wrong. The annoyances of oil paint.

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