we really never know what it takes to do someone else’s job. we don’t know all the tools used, the research done, how training and experience play into it, how someone perceives their own work. we can only guess and, often, fall desperately and even arrogantly off the mark.
walking into d’s studio my eye is drawn to the easel standing in the far corner. closer to me, though, is an old cart with an old wooden box holding paints and brushes. there is another cart and on that is this palette – layers upon layers of color and texture, clay pots of water standing next to this widely-understood symbol of “artist”, often associated with the beginning of the process of painting.
now, i’ve painted a few paintings in my life. i bought very large prepared canvases and dug around in the basement for leftover acrylic house paint to use on my creations. without a palette, i brushed and re-brushed and threw paint until i knew each painting was done. and then i hung them on the walls. in one case, i painted right on the wall and put a clearance frame around the section of wall that i painted – a nod to a painting without the cost of canvas.
all of this, however, does not make me capable of really understanding how d paints. for i do not know all the tools, i do not know the process of mixing color or the technique of stretching canvas he uses, i do not know the tricks of the trade he has accumulated over decades of honing his expertise. nor do i know the knowledge base he brings about other artists, other painters and paintings, the use of light and dark space, the way the viewer’s eye sees, the very technical details and the very heart-based intuitions he has learned through many, many years of study and practice. i can’t understand or even try to predict the amount of time it takes or doesn’t take for him to conceptualize, to explore, to create, to review, to assess, to adjust, to re-create. i can respond to his work but i cannot define it, nor would it be meritorious for me to even try to do so. out of respect for his work, something that is one of the very things that defines him, i know that i really have no idea. what i can do is appreciate his talent and every last thing that he has done to bring him to this place where he paints beautiful paintings and it seems to take no effort whatsoever.
with regard to anyone and the work that they do, i would hope we could each remember – with humble respect – that we really have no idea. we can just be grateful that we are each a spoke in the wheel on this good earth. our palettes, the places from which we begin, are different. and we can’t do it alone.