Oh I hate making promises I can't keep. But I rarely do anything in order, chronologically or even in at least in a timely manner, and this should come as a warning on all the packages of my promises.
My partner K (ours is a passionate and commited yet boundless union in case the word partner has limited connotations in your part of the world)....wanted to commission me (without pay of course, at least of the monetary kind) to do a painting that would take me away from my tendency to illustrate, my tendency to create neat, controlled and whimsical paintings infused with joyful and childish intent...somewhere, he found a photograph of Sudanese men standing in a polling line, waiting to vote. The year the photo was taken, the vote in question that mattered, I am unsure of. I need to read my news and history. But all pertinent facts aside, I stared at the photo and could only wonder at the resolute expression of the man at the front of the line...he has a mission to accomplish, he is determined to do his part, and he firmly believes his vote stands for who he is and his voice demands to be counted. He is not there by societal obligation as so often is the case in the west, he is proud and he will make a difference. This chance has, perhaps, been newly presented to him...it is not taken for granted. And then behind him, another resolute face, but behind that...what? Who?...his fellow countrymen...do they have the same passion? Will they sell out for personal gain? Are they actually Sudanese, are they transplants, are they....puppets, are they reliable? To vote in the most unstable of conditions, is this a risk, is it a pipe dream, does it have any worth or tangible effect? The faces in this painting, the dress, the quality of light, can any of this give anything away? More yet...how often does the painter discuss the questions that arise while forming a painting? Is it only ever a matter of making it look lovely? All of these things are hitting me as I attempt to connect with my work on this piece, and I now realize that this is intrinsic to one's evolution if one is attempting to create outside of the box...the box being our own limitations...our own enclosure of our fear of breaking out, our own frustration at trying to be understood, to convey what we intend, or even in this case, to translate what we think the image has to say.
The original photo ~ is it simply a day in the life that bears no deep analysis? Am I projecting onto it more than was occurring in the actual day as it was lived by the men who happened to have their picture taken in that nonosecond of existence?
I don't know. I am into the painting now and all I know is there is more to show in it. Maybe it will just be pretty, maybe it will make you cry, maybe it will embody triumph, maybe it will convey these men as they truly are, it could speak for them, it could also do nothing and flop altogether.
I can't worry about that right now. I just have an urge to get more involved in the patterns, or lack of, in their robes, to bring them into the proper time of day. I decided to use acrylic paint for this one, to concentrate on line and shape more than detail or extensive colour.
I have many unfinished paintings lying about, but this one is begging the most not to join them, so I keep on...I didn't get called in to work today, they haven't needed to call me much this month at all and it has been hard adjusting to the lack of money and all the free time. You'd think I'd just jump at the chance to paint, but my studio is freezing and I need a space heater. Another silly excuse....I'm getting back to it, and I have not forgotten Suzanne Valadon, in fact, I am relating to her more and more these days....