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Performance Art

This painting of a ginormous wave, titled "Magnitude," happened like an unexpected slice of birthday cake in the middle of a low-carb diet. I was plugging along with my Easter-egg pastels on my "Visual Valium" landscapes, not too happy, not too frustrated. Just "comfortably numb," as Pink Floyd would say.

Then Bill at Losina Art Center, where I was painting, said, "Let's take some video of you painting."

My eyes suddenly gleamed with an exhibitionist's anticipation. I quickly put away my epidural sky and whipped out a National Geographic centerfold of the biggest wave I've ever seen, a 48 x 36 canvas, a 6-inch house painting brush, and poured puddles of blues, greens, and violets. Let the games begin!

For the next 20 minutes or so, I painted. Or shall I say, DANCED, with a brush attached to my arm. When whole-arm motions proved insufficient to depict the powerful motion of the wave, I lunged from side to side, using my whole body. When my shoulders and wrists fatigued from slapping that huge brush rapidly in curvilinear sweeping motions with the surf, I used both hands on the brush like Serena Williams' two-handed backhand. By the time I had the underpainting laid down and Bill was through recording, I was sweating, but not quite spent.

Looking around carefully to make sure no one savvy to the "Visual Valium" rules I had set for myself was looking, I slopped a good-sized blob of black onto my canvas. I low-lighted all the shadows with black to heighten the drama.

During my next session, with everything dry, I added the highlights to the "glamour spots" where the sun shines through the wave and the lightest foam. Finally, I had to put in the surfer to show, by comparison, the enormity of the wave.

The anaesthesiologist has the needle poised, but I'm not quite ready to go under again. Let's see what happens next...

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