I wanted to paint something tonight that ushered a different emotion. So many of my paintings are landscapes at the golden hour, and they feel trite because they are often exercises or nostalgic memories. But memories go two ways. I have hurts and darkness in life, and it’s less than authentic for me to ignore that.

Tonight I tried something totally different from my normal practice of finding something beautiful and trying to capture it in a painting. Instead of carefully planning and thinking about light and composition and value structures and chroma, I tried to focus on emotion only. I wanted to paint something different. So I broke all of the practices of my other paintings.

Instead of a calm sky, I painted it angry. Instead of a flat horizon, I chose to angle it to create a sense of off-balanced confusion. Instead of carefully planned shapes, I smeared ragged blurs of paint. Instead of careful brush work, I dripped paint from a heavily saturated brush, and smashed a rag on the paper to cut irregular clouds. Instead of thin lines in the foreground, and meticulous shadows, I used large brush strokes. Instead of harmonious planes, I chose to paint competing angles. Instead of taking my time and planning each step, I slashed pigment and water and splattered and hit it with a hair dryer before quickly dashing in the next layer.

I genuinely like the result here. It’s a different feel. It doesn’t feel trite to me, it feels honest. And even though it’s dark, and combative, there is something beautiful about it because it’s honest.

Sometimes life is kind, and memories form at the golden hour. Sometimes days feel well fitted, and tidy. Other times life feels uncontrolled and perilous. It’s the juxtaposition of both experiences that makes the pleasant times so sweet. And it’s the turbulence that makes order so calming. Without rage or bitterness or despair, there would be no appreciation of serenity, amity and ease.

That might be word salad. But it’s what I feel experiencing this painting.

What do you feel?

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