Monday, September 5, 2011

Barns and Something You Cannot Possibly Do

If you look at the barn images, you probably have enough information to draw an architectural rendering by now. The barn sometimes feels like a brick on my head. The partial barn images I find more interesting. When standing close to the barn, it assumes different personalities.

This weekend I read Life Work by Donald Hall (appropriate for Labor Day weekend). He writes about how easy it is to deceive one's self about one's work:

"...while I am writing at the desk...I am utterly happy, utterly unself-conscious. Then I remember--sagging suddenly, heavy as mud, black, and hopeless--all the times I have felt this way, writing poems especially but occasionally essays, when I have come later to realize that the words I wrote with such excitement were nothing, nothing, nothing at all, and my excitement (my certainty!) merely a function of blood chemistry. One disease of working alone--the way writers mostly work--is dependence on mood. Mood is no measure and flips from highest to lowest in a millisecond."

These words apply to painters too. You can't wish a painting to be good despite your best intentions. Just move on, and keep working. Maybe on the same idea.

But here is Donald Hall quoting the sculptor Henry Moore:

"The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is--it must be something you cannot possibly do!"

So if you think, maybe, you deceive yourself, be consoled if you pursue "something you cannot possibly do!"


SamArtDog said...

As always, your thoughts are very interesting. This time, you say that a whole barn is, to paraphrase, a brick upside the head. That reminds me of what Chuck Close says about his huge portraits being too overwhelming (he's ironically face-blind, which makes him unable to recognize a face), so he paints them bit by bit. Close-up (bad pun), his bits are each a small abstraction, each one a painting in itself.

To me, those beautiful roofs are what give your barns their integrity. Whether they're new or old, and whether you're afraid of heights or a klutz with a hammer, you're very good at keeping them dry.

Bob Lafond said...

As I was driving home from work tonight in the pelting rain, I thought of the barn, with its remnants of dry hay tucked in the corners, probably housing many creatures. Certainly the barn swallows love it.

I have been thinking of doing closer-ups of the barn, but then they wouldn't be recognizable as a barn. I could also move inside it.

Thanks for your insightful comments.