Sunday, April 10, 2011

Miss Steir

Above are images of and by Pat Steir. Pat Steir is one of those artists I can't seem to get enough of. Call it a bizarre fascination for Chinese brush painting in a past life, but I feel a connection to this woman's work.
The theme of the past month or so, for me, has been experience. Experiencing where you are, who you are, what you do, those around you. Ok, so it's been way over a month of me writing about this( this whole damn blog is about that..), but the past month it has grown from something I write about, to something I feel like I am actually doing. It's about damn time, too.

I feel like saying damn a lot tonight.

So I look at her work, and I can't help but think that she is in that wonderful in-between space of knowing precisely what she is doing, and trusting the experimental/ freeform/ impromptu experience of the paint. I imagine this is incredibly difficult at times.
Personally, there are many times when I know I can paint something, then paint it again and again (and again and again.......) until it looks right. I mess with it until I kill it. This is also how I learn, sometimes.

This is a big debate for many painters, I think. On one hand, the refined execution of a painting, the labor and toil of it, the "suffering for beauty" if you will, is one that many, including myself, have tried to learn. At some point, though, I think a painter gets good enough (or goes crazy) to have to do this toiling less and less. Funny, when you think about it. You start off with a simple love for, say, paint. You strive through so much work and agony over how to paint, just to try to get to a place where you do less of it, but with more meaning. Ok, not a new idea, "sharpening the saw" was coined by Stephen Covey I think. But still. I'm always amazed when an artist can say what they want in just a few strokes. I feel like the word "choice" is part of this conversation, but I'm not fully sure how yet.
So maybe Pat Steir never spent her time agonizing over details of paint, of how to get it "just so". But I have no doubt in my mind she DID agonize over how to experience it all. Being in the present aint easy. In fact, it takes a long, long time to get there.

BUT, I can say, from the moments when I'm totally with it, it's actually harder NOT to be in the present.
So my question is this: Is there something in your life with which you have not allowed yourself that ninja move? Is there something that, with a little thought and consciousness, you could do in a few steps (i.e. strokes) that would get the job done just as powerfully? No, I'm not going into the ever-present American hustle of efficiency. I'm just putting out a question. Maybe there is someone you love whom you could show that love in something very simple that takes a minute, but has taken you years to learn? I mean, something that you have REALLY learned. Not just chocolates and flowers, folks. Maybe that is taking care of yourself in order to be there for them? Maybe you keep saying something is too hard, but you know in the back of your mind one simple step would get the ball rolling?? Maybe, just maybe, you have some rule blocking you?? Maybe you need to bust your ninja move out. (Ninja Move, for those of you who don't use this term (which you should) is the move that is swift, planned, and perfect, yet seems effortless... the one perfect kick that will get your enemy in .5 seconds, but took 50 years to learn. Yup... THAT move).

Meg says, on a monthly basis, "Erase the line that holds you back". Damn. Right again. Meg is such a ninja.

Ok, so enough for Inspirational Hour With Mia. I'm still a crank, I still drink too much coffee, I still choose to make things complicated, I still leave my wallet in horrible places, I still drool at night (did I just write that..), and I still have days where I want to slash a hole through my canvas. SO THERE.

But, sometimes knowing that being present is actually easier than the mess we otherwise choose makes it a little nicer to get going. or drooling. or whatever.

and.... just so I make it even more apparent that I am utterly un-Zen sometimes.....


Baby animal pic yet again. Lord have mercy I'm lame.


  1. mia, your writing is really beautiful...hope you have a good first month in your new home. and the flowers are really wonderful, too. i totally get it, as i have been obsessed with them lately myself. and i am really not like that.

  2. The line that holds me back is fear, I guess. Fear of success - fear of failure? Fear of trying? LOL.

    I get the ninja move feeling most often when painting alla prima from life. It's when I have to do a commission (that means money, right?) I choke up and paint 10 strokes when 1 would have sufficed.

    BOO to fear!