Something is changing on the inside again. My painting has changed radically in the snap of a finger. Haven't painted in a couple years. The zeal just fell away. Every time I take a break for a few years, which always occurs from boredom doing the same thing over and over, I take up painting in an altogether different manner from before. I've made a leap from figurative to abstract, minimalist. I decided to put out of my mind all thought of selling, thoughts of naming. I wanted to find my own aesthetic without regard for what might sell. I took the punk path. I want to express my own aesthetic. To express it, I needed to find it. I wanted to make something totally mine, according to my own visual aesthetic, without regard for anyone else liking it or not liking it. Minimalism is my favorite period of the Modern era, abstract expressionism too. My art aesthetic is particularly American. Now that I have found my own sense of self-expression that is for myself alone with no ambition to sell, it quite naturally falls into the minimal and the abstract. Something like the place Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly fell in between the two. Each one of the new pieces I find I love more than anything I've done before. There was a time I wanted to do figurative and loved it while doing it, but they didn't quite satisfy what I really wanted to do, abstraction of some sort. I'd thought about selling things before, making them accessible to the people I live among, considering my environment is not urban, but rural, where individuals matter. I wanted to make portraits of individuals, particular individuals, people I know. I only painted people I know.
Now, I don't want to spend so much time painting details. I prepare the surface, then slather on the paint like stucco, one color with palette knife. I like it. It pleases what I want of a work of art. I've actually adopted the punk sensibility into my painting. Punk is doing what you want to do that is your own individual expression, explaining the varieties of hair colors and styles of apparel on punkers. Punk's philosophy is be who you are. Punk as a style has been going on forty years. It was 1975 that I heard my first punk album, Patti Smith's Horses. The show I saw in Charlotte around a month ago of five hard core punk bands lit up my love for punk rock, punk attitude. I've come into a place where I only want to be around people I connect with. I saw a film this afternoon, a documentary about punk graffiti artists who evolved into galleries and museums. It was called Beautiful Losers. Punk attitude ran through everybody featured in the film. I felt I connected with the different artists, with what they were doing. I felt aesthetically free. I loved my new direction with paint all the more. In a way, they were doing what I am doing, just totally different. Also in this time, I'm finding less tolerance for the fake and don't care to be around fake people anymore. What do I mean by fake people? The climbers, the people who see themselves in terms of the asset hierarchy, people whose center is in money and the appearance of money, fickle, people whose identity is in appearance. People a good first impression is important to. They're always disappointments later. They make a pretty package, but when you look inside, it's empty.
It feels like I'm shifting gears again, turning away from some and towards others. I am letting go of the people I am expected to be cool around. Gotta act cool. Talk cool. Be acceptable. Conform to the social standard of appearance. When Vada is in my life, I don't need somebody around who keeps track of my cool quotient. With Crystal and Justin, I don't have to perform. With other friends, Melvin, Harry, Ross and Zack, Lynn, Carole, Donna, Milly, there is no judgment going on. We all receive each other as we are, dark side with the light side. I'm moving away from people I cannot talk freely with, people I feel the need to self-edit for. Five years of writing these almost-daily journal entries brought me into closer touch with self, better understanding. The writing has become a meditation. I speak freely here, considering whoever looks at it is free to read it or not to read it. When somebody doesn't like what I write, they're free to stop. I've begun to feel that way around others. They're free to pay me no mind. And I'm free to get up and go. It has not always been like this. There was a time I believed it was necessary to make a good impression, conform to the code. Always in uncertainty. Am I cool enough? Am I dressed right? Yesterday's experience with a positive thinking tron showed me the difference between how I am now and used to be in the not very distant past. Then, I'd have tried to show I think positive too, that I'm really a nice guy, know not to say taboo words, a sensitive New Age guy. Now, I am overtaken by an itch to get out of there, away. Instead of unsuccessfully attempting to rescue a dead conversation of niceties that went nowhere, I let it go and ran. By now I've learned that when a song starts out bad, it's not going to get better.
I feel freer talking with people I don't know than ever before, even freer talking with people I know. Something else that changed recently is tolerance for the fake, for PC. I'm free now when the fake comes up to say to self, I don't need this, and get out of it. I'll stay away from the coffee shop, the vortex of white middle-class pretend. Any way I look at it, there is not a lot of time ahead for this lifetime. I am more jealous of my time than ever before. I don't have time for pretend. Balance is what I'm seeking now. The balance of opposites in duality. Looking at balance, the bad balances the good. Good is not the spiritual path. The good must be balanced by the bad. Acting sweet all the time is not spiritual. Being nice all the time is not spiritual. I'll define what I mean by good and bad. We call it good behavior when the karmic return is to our liking. We call it bad when the return is not to our liking. Pretending to act without ego motivation just backs the ego up like a lake behind a dam, makes it into a powerful force. I am not free of ego, nor was meant to be. I feel like, for balance, it's best to let the ego have its way, its say, in moderation, controlled, not suppressed. Diminishing the ego is the Master's role, not mine. Mine is to live with it, work with it, not against it. Meher Baba said our ego is our ballast, the rocks kept in the bottom of sailing ships for weight to keep the ships upright. The ego keeps us upright in this world of duality where every kind of challenge awaits us, emotional storms, uncontrollable storms bigger than us that come by surprise. I'm zooming in on the shift I'm feeling within having to do with ego. I've been feeling strong ego need for expression over the last few weeks. I don't try to stop it or slow it down. I let it flow, while paying attention, directing it to something constructive or creative if I'm able. I like to get to know my ego. My goal is to mindfully direct the ego rather than let the ego direct me.
photos by tj worthington