Monday, November 26, 2012

Wrestling with Angels

Yeah, so I've been gone a while.

In my defense, I've been crazy busy, yo. Between straight razor buying, show preparing and whatnot, I've bought a house, moved into it and hosted events parent, in-laws and all the other things that make you an adult.

I have not been painting much.

And it horrifies me. Horrifies me! I lay in bed at night and suddenly the urge to to be a painter, to draw, to glaze and varnish comes up deep within me and then… I fall asleep. I have thought about this a tremendous amount the last few days. Between my time shooting space aliens in the head on distant words (Starcraft) and organizing the forest legions against chaos (Warhammer) and looking for where I put that goddamn drill bit (under the magazines near the utility panel) my thoughts are chew chew chewing on the gristle of a single problem:


It has occurred to me in that few weeks/months that I know how to paint. In my own opinion very well.  but I have little to no clue about how to be a painter. I have wrestled with this problem for a good long while now.

I have always contended that painting was an angel and I have been, up to this point, Jacob; wrestling with my intention through a long night.

It should come as no surprise that the story of Jacob and angel has been visited numerous times in painting. From Rembrandt:

Rembrandt's version, "Jacob hugs an angel"

To Gauguin
Gauguin's version, "Angel noogies"

The actual passage in the Old Testament is very short, not more than a paragraph. But it's one of those few events in the biblical stories where everything changes. Of all the bible stories I remember as a child I can recall very few that can be thought of in terms of "before this point" and "after this point" in such stark terms. Yes, Jesus fed a bunch a of people. But he did that all the time. Yes, Paul sent a ground breaking letter to the infant church. He sent a few of those. But in that particular story, Jacob literally awoke one man and went to bed another.

As the story goes, Jacob wrestled with the angel all night and in the morning, as neither one had the upper hand, the angel reached down and dislocated Jacob's hip. Then the angel said, "Let me go, it is daybreak". Jacob refuses unless the

And Jacob refused. Exhausted after a full night of wrestling with an opponent of otherworldly strength, a literally unbeatable foe, Jacob continued wrestling. His opponent reach own and then literally wrenched his hip from its socket. And still, Jacob, sleep deprived, physically exhausted and in pain refused to submit. Not only did he refuse submission he agreed to stop attempting to kick the angels ass only if the angel agreed to bless him.

To be honest I have always prided myself on my tenacity. But I have to admit that my strength is fading. Gift for painting or not. Unrealistic expectations or not. At this point I am feeling Less like this:

Alexander Leloir, "Jacob Wrestling with
the Angel" 1865

And more like this

Monty Python, "Monty Python and 
the Holy Grail" 1975

The story says nothing of how Jacobs feels. Only that he wrestled and prevailed. I think I know. For those readers who know me and have endeavored to ask, "What's it like to be painter?" You know. for those of you who read this that I haven't met, or don't paint and what to know what it's like. Try arm wrestling yourself. It feels much like that.

In the beginning it's nothing but a wrestling match. Against yourself. And so, As I contemplate running away, giving up my blessing and staying Jacob forever a part of me, armless and legless whispers;

"Get back here you bloody coward. I'm going to bite your legs off."

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