A hundred artists descended on Colmenar earlier this month. From nothing, each one created a finished painting within one single day. The photographs here were all taken that day.
So. It’s the beginning. We have a blank canvas. All the options are available to us – we must make our choices.
First, where should we be? There is time to consider, time to explore different places, the choice does not have to be made straight away. We can start, get settled, then change our minds and move to a different location, searching for what feels right.
Though it must be said, constant discontentment, constant changing, may not leave time for fruitful output. Eventually, a decision needs to be made. Time to settle, and then live with our choice.
Secondly, what outlook do we want? There are interesting corners to look into, shadows to peer into, trying to see what treasures are hidden in the gloom. Contrasts, light and shade, chiaroscuro.
There are wide open spaces, great vistas. There are close-up views, a detail to study, a chance to concentrate on extraordinary perfection and small imperfections. Perhaps a combination – distance and detail in one, sunshine and shadow, the big view and the close-up.
We can stand in the same place, you and I, yet what we see is different. What I see is only what I see, nothing more. No inferences can be made. What you see is what you see.
So now we are settled and ready for the task ahead. The mind is prepared, we have what we need. Deep breath, and begin. We have chosen our viewpoint, we have chosen our palette.
A false start. No problem. It’s early days, we can gloss over the mistake and start again with our blank canvas. Except the canvas isn’t blank any more, even though it looks it. It is now covered with a thin veneer which acknowledges our earlier mistakes. Our skin becomes thicker and incorporates but never hides the past. The layers build up, each experience, each attempt, adding something to the finished article.
A re-think, more preparation, perhaps a slight shift to the side. Start again. Don’t focus on what went wrong, make a fresh start.
Confidence grows. We can do this. With that confidence our actions become more sweeping, more decisive. We are clear on our overall direction and each step taken is a step towards our goal. Oh! Another mistake, but a small one. Study it. Look closely. What remedial action is needed? Not a disaster, no need to abandon everything, no need to start again. Think. Correct the error. Cover it up if needed. Absorb it. A combination of these. It’s OK. Concentrate. Carry on. The eye and the mind are dragged back to the mistake. Stop it! Not productive. Move on. Look at the bigger picture.
Yes, it’s coming together. We can be content with what we have done. Tempting to keep adding, adjusting, tweaking. But in the end, it’s time to stop. Time to say “That’s it. That’s what I have done. Judge me on this, this is me.”
And so the judges gather, as they always will. Comments are passed, sometimes favourable, sometimes not. There are winners, there are losers. Prizes are handed out. Such is life.
Who will decide if we are winners? Who will decide what the prize is? In truth, it’s not the judges. It’s possibly those who actively took part alongside us. Perhaps those close to us. Probably just ourselves though. Did we do our best? Are we developing, continuously improving what we do? Is that even necessary? Are we content with the choices we made and what we made of our choices?
In the end, contentment makes us winners, and regret makes us losers. Our choice.
© Tamara Essex 2013
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT:
I need to remember to use estuve to say I was somewhere in the past, rather than yo estaba which is the continuous tense. Why can’t I remember estuve? Is it because it’s irregular? Estuve en Marbella la semana pasada. I was in Marbella last week. Estuvimos en el bar hasta muy tarde. We were in the bar until very late.