Updated: Oct 7, 2021
There is a certain kind of suspended tension to these days. A clinging culmination slowly losing hold. Sure, Cicadas take the day and katydids rule the night with their songs of high summer, but the white noise of crickets --prelude musicians of Autumn, really-- underscores all of it and high on the trees there are brushes of color already on the blue-green leaves.
And the light has shifted. This I notice. This I always notice.
Recently, I was confronted with a question that has come up more than once in the last month or so. It was on a juried application for an art platform. "Why do you paint? What inspires you?" I had no real answer for that. I just do. The question made me cringe, too, making me think of the hokey mission statements I have read from some artists. Ultimately, it is not all that profound. Is it a good-looking piece? Aesthetically pleasing? Well then, that should be enough. But then I remembered a statement from the great American Realist Edward Hopper. "What I wanted to do", he once said about his work, "was to paint light on the side of a house."
Yes. Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Clearly I am no Edward Hopper, but I understand the sensibility. Ultimately, it is all just a study of light.
In late afternoon, when the weather is nice, it's my habit to sit in the back garden and moodle. Someone once asked me why I keep moving the chair. (Or sometimes why I even do this in the first place, as I am often out there for a good while). Well, I am following the light. And I notice now that the once glowing fuschia patch of Bee Balm of just a week ago is now in shadow at the same time of day.
I have worked in kitchens in the bowels of buildings, no windows and artificial light. Not a good thing for the Spirit. So knowing its timing --always-- I'd steal away for a few minutes to watch the wistful fading of the light. To see the sun set is a need more than a desire. It is to see something crucial, something important slipping away.
Of these particular days and summer Jay Gatsby said: "...Makes you want to --I don't know-- reach out and hold it back." Well, not hold it back necessarily. To witness it's passing with a pang, perhaps. And maybe capture the ephemeral in a painting.
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2. Paul Jacks, Detail; "Officer's Row, Sandy Hook. 24 X 48", November 2011. Prints.
4. Paul Jacks, "Cumulus", 18 X 24", acrylic on canvas, 2008.