10 March 2008

EarthIsland Painting: Am I Brain Me?

As I get older some things get easier and some things get harder. Life doesn't really progress, it just gets different or maybe stranger. Since I went camping with friend Kyle Bronsdon last weekend, something has happened to me. Maybe it was the dead silence and utter remoteness of Kofa Wilderness in western Arizona that amplified it. Maybe staring into a fire of mesquite and ironwood logs drew it out of me. Or maybe it was the copious amounts of whiskey. Only the mother-ship knows... (or Carl Sagan)

Staring up into that fathomless collection of stars, I realized I had never really seen the stars. The night sky had always been like a tv screen or an image in a book. Something so un-comprehensible it wasn't worth even trying. That night I saw the Milky Way in 3 dimensions. It had depth. We are remote hill-billies stationed on its outer ring. I saw the stars above and below us and looked into the heart of the galaxy. I felt vulnerable in my own gravity, precarious in my position on the surface of our planet yet comforted by the air I was breathing. We are practically swimming in the thickness of gas on our planets surface. Go ahead, wave you hand around above your head, you'll feel the water we swim in.

So then I begin to feel like a brain. Yes! a kind of a disembodied brain inside of my own body. Intellectually, I know I am a brain, but to realize it is something else. I have this strange visualization of a type of octopus with thousands of thin tentacles. Because, really, I am. This octopus creature pushes out through flesh and muscle to drive a car, pushes levers and buttons on a computer screen, fries up eggs, does some math, and throws a ball to my dog. Just so you know, I am octopus creature right now! Don't want to alarm you.

For me at least, this fits perfectly with my new painting. Kind of. I call it "EarthIsland." It's the first step into my life long battle over whether to do realism or abstraction. It's my first step in combining the two as well as adding in a graphic element so dear to my heart. We'll see where it goes but I just started on the 3' x 3' panel today. 9 times larger than I've been working on the last year. The pic by the way is just a photoshop sketch. I imagine the painting will evolve way beyond it.


julie said...

I like earth island! do you always do photoshop sketches of pieces before you paint them? weird, but cool. keep us posted on the progress.

Tom Baumgartner said...

Well, spent the weekend working on finishing the "paisley" painting which is now going on 17hrs or work. I keep track everytime I paint on the back of the painting with chit marks.

The earthisland piece has the initial background color down. That's about it. I usually work this way. Starting paintings while others are finishing. Since I work from photo's I've taken, I like to set up the sketches in photoshop. If something isn't perfect, I can add-subtract parts to make it right.

Earthisland is special because it's abstract so as I work on it, it may transform as I find other things I want to include along the way.