I have been wrestling. Well, more accurately I have been making wrestling paintings.
I was inspired watching my nephews wrestle. The wrangling illustrates everything I want my painting to be. I noticed the many ways the art of moves, countermoves, and struggle is important to my life as an artist.
Jack and Robbie have been intertwining their bodies forever. Rolling around on carpet, grass, and sand has always been a part of their life. This year, the beach mat was the surface of choice. A beach mat is basically a wrestling mat that floats in the ocean. It supports your weight, lets water onto its surface and creates a world that occupies kids (and my sister-in-law) for days.
I notice the relational aspects of their tussles. The way they incorporate some learned moves (from a couple of years wrestling on teams), with necessary improvisation (due to the mobile nature of a mat on water) and a big dash of play.
The boys find contact, touch, power, submission, loss and triumph. When one is knocked off the surface, he climbs back on and tries again.
I want to incorporate this recipe into my painting. I want to understand my training as a painter and use skills as a starting point but not a limitation. My skill needs the same improvisation and play while I wrestle with the work. I believe this willingness to play with skill is part of what makes art great.
I chose the theme of wrestling because it is what I saw. I also chose the theme because I wrestle all the time in my mind and on the canvas. I wrestle with being human and all that implies. It seems right somehow.
So as of today, I have made a handful of wrestling works and enjoy the struggle. I don’t think wrestling will be my subject for life but the lessons I learn making these paintings seem important. The act of doing, the fun, and the utilization of skills will propel me into whats next. These paintings feel like summer vacation and I am also aware of the impending autumn.