Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Tricky Path To The Sages

"Sages" by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Paper, 9" x 9" 

Challenge Day 6: Trust In "Not Knowing"

It seems a bit ironic to title a painting "Sages" and then to blog about "not knowing." But, that is how I operate when I start a painting. I do "not know" what I will find at the end of the painting journey. And even when I start out with the idea that I'm going to paint a certain something, I often end up with something altogether different. Today I had planned - I should say "hoped" - to paint something joyful and full of color - and I ended up with a monochromatic image of two mysterious figures with a spiral behind them. I didn't know that was what I really wanted to say until I started to see it - then I knew what the painting was about. I use "not knowing" to get to "knowing." 

Here are the images of my "Start" and my "All The World's A Stage" mid process painting.

Even as I tried to accept it as "finished" I knew the painting with the 3 figures wasn't right. I felt the pull to obliterate it and find the real painting as well as the pull in the opposite direction - to resist the risk of obliteration and to preserve what was there. Ever been caught in that tension? 

I felt I had to go for something more authentic. I sprayed a paper towel with rubbing alcohol and scrubbed. 

The search for wisdom is a constant. Perhaps the figures I identify as "Sages" are a metaphor - a  representation of an old notion knocking around in my head that there are "keepers of the knowledge" - that there are "those who know" - and the path to them is tricky, risky, and full of false starts.


  1. My painting for Day 7 took so many left turns, that I felt like I had run a marathon when it was completed! But, usually these paintings turn out to be our best. Love this one lots, Jim!!!

    1. Ha! I agree. Isn't it an amazing process. And your painting for Day 7 is one of my all time favorites. I could write a paper about it, I like it so much. My first exclamation is "How do you DO that?" but then of course I KNOW how you do it, technically, sort of. Maybe the real question/exclamation is "How do you KNOW how to SEE that?"

  2. I love how you have no fear... you take that unexpected turn and let it lead you! Thanks for sharing your process and mind path Jim!

    1. But I do have fear, Sheila. All the time. I have to work at recognizing it and not giving into it. Sometimes I actually write "be brave" "fortitude" and things like that right into the paper. One of my little rituals. I'm so glad that you enjoy reading about the process. I write about it in part because I learn from writing. It is an added bonus when someone else reads it and gets something out of it.