all photos by tj worthington
This is Saturday, my day of rest. I refuse to do anything but be at home with no agenda, no schedule, no thinking about something to do. I write this as part of my rest. I do the equivalent of rest when I'm writing to you. I'll be exhausted when it's over and may flop down for a nap, will probably put in a movie, Ai Weiwei's Never Sorry. I've had to shut down to activity. A couple weeks of not having a moment with a state of mind able to quiet down to read in a book for awhile, or pick up a brush and mix some colors. I've let myself get caught up on one thing after another, none of it objectionable, and by today I need to sleep til noon (done), watch a movie (done), talk with Carole on the phone (done), and now am settled into writing the day's open letter to you. As always, I have nothing to say, but keep on writing and eventually something gets said, maybe. Doesn't matter, we're flowing free today.
Last night I watched a brief (1 hour) documentary, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, (2009). The film maker Bruno Wollheim spent three years filming Hockney talking about his painting while driving or riding in a car, at home, and painting. It advertises itself with a quotation from the Sunday Times of London, "an unqualified, life-enhancing joy from start to finish." I didn't think of it as that all the time watching it, but in retrospect seeing that description I can say it is well said, though I wouldn't have said that while watching. It was far too interesting, dwelt in the depth and breadth of Hockney himself as an artist and as a human being. It really is a joy of a film, but not dramatically. Joy is not a word I would have come up with, but it fits. It truly is life-enhancing. Hockney is somebody who has spent many years in intense study of art. His paintings are the findings of his study. Each painting learns from the ones that went before.
In the time of filming the documentary, Hockney returned to Yorkshire, England, where he grew up, from Los Angeles, where he spent much of his adult life. He is in his late 60s here, and painting landscapes of Yorkshire outside with big easel and an assistant to hand him things like he's a surgeon. He paints fast. He was working toward a show at the Tate. He made an image for the Tate show that took a whole wall, 30 thereabouts 4x5' canvases that fit together into one big image of a tree, some trees around it and a small red barn. He talks about planning the piece, working it out and why. During the times Hockney is talking, he is talking to his friend of many years with the camera. It's like he is talking to the viewer. It is a Hockney work of art, itself, in that his agenda as an artist is to include the viewer in the work, painting from a viewer's perspective. Sometimes during indoor interviews, a long mirror would be standing on the floor beside Hockney to show the camera and the man holding it, the one being talked to. His collection of canvases of the Yorkshire countryside are as beautiful as if David Hockney painted them. They have air, they breathe, they have life, they have light, they have dark. He even painted in the rain and snow. Monet, the next century. It can be said of the film what can be said of Hockney's work. It is a moving picture portrait of Hockney by someone who knew him and appreciated where Hockney the artist is coming from.
I hear a towhee, the calico bird, sing in the distance. It is a quiet time with the sun's rays slanting through the foliage in advance of the gloaming. It's so quiet I hear the crickets in my head like they're outside. I listen closer and they're inside. Listen closer and they're outside. Listen closer again and they're inside. Then the inescapable conclusion: it's both. Maybe. It's inside, for sure. Maybe. Doesn't matter. I like the sound. It is a comforting sound, the sound of summer in the mountains. It beats all to hell the sound of horns, tires and breaking glass. I just now heard the sound of a dove taking flight, a squeaky vibrato sound unique to the dove. A turkey hen is walking down the edge of the road, entering the zone of a birdfeeder and is walking on around the house, checking it out. One of the beautiful sights in nature is the flight of a wild turkey. They set their momentum in motion flapping big wings, then they're gliders. They glide as far as they want to. It's odd to see how a bird that big can fly so gracefully. They're birds. Flight itself is grace.