Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Difficulty of Approaching a Painting

The Dream: A painter, a gregarious, accomplished man, allows me to help him. First I watch. He is working with white paint only, a viscous oil. He puts his brush into a long and narrow trough, pulling the brush hairs along the edge again and again to adjust the amount of paint. He does this until I become impatient, thinking, “Get on with it!”

When he finishes applying the paint to the canvas, he has somehow managed to model a man's face and body; his strokes are perfect. I get to work on a similar piece that has been assigned to me and soon create flaws that I can't smooth out. I'm unable to mimic his perfection, try as I might. I get some paint in a spot it shouldn't be. I go for some water and a paper towel. Even though I am aware that water isn't a solvent for oil, I hope I can correct the defect before it's too set to remove.

Later there's an easel arrangement I'm expected to use that I don't understand. A platform is supported by four saw-horses near one end. At the other stands the painting. It appears balanced at the moment, but what will happen when I stand on the platform and approach the painting? Clearly the set-up has no stability.

Interpretation: I'm making some mistakes. As I face my own imperfections I try to solve (solvent) something with the wrong solution (water not turpentine). Getting closer to the problem (the painting) will throw me off-balance. The part of me that can handle it, the dream's competent male artist, has spent a very long time preparing, so long that I've lost patience with him. He works only with white, so might not see the black or gray tones (ambiguities) of the situation. Since the situation (set up) has no stability, it looks as if I'll have to address my difficulty, whether or not I'm ready.

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