My lover, creature of the written word gushing with instinctive heartbeats straight from the arteries of feeling, always in stream of consciousness on pages filled by the minute, told me at one point he cannot understand how someone like Vermeer would work for months to create a single painting. Because, surely, the initial emotion, the original impulse, would’ve long waned.
I never replied- incentives of his physical closeness distracted me.
But as I was recently talking to my muse about an elaborate composition she was planning to start well aware it might take weeks to perfect, an idea became clear to me that the artistic process by which we write – or draw – or sculpt – or compose is a timeless container of the inner state we want our creation to convey.
So during the interval between the first and last brushstroke our primary inspiration is preserved and can be retrieved almost like in a trance each time we work to transcribe it.
That would explain to my lover why Vermeer, who lived such a stressful life in a household with 11 probably boisterous children, a mother-in-law and family problems which often had to be mediated at the then ‘police station’, went to great lengths to retain his peace before the easel as he gradually produced about 35 mostly small paintings in over 20 years.
Rembrandt, his contemporary, exceeded 600 after four decades of activity. And he usually handled large canvases.
Yet this only illustrates two approaches to the suspensive power of creation. While Vermeer types seek to prolong a mood otherwise rarely found, those who can access the source and live that state again do so relentlessly, almost compulsively.
Egon Schiele, for instance, drew veritable X-rays of the passion in human flesh ‘literally racing against a hand-held stopwatch’, able to condense in few incredibly accurate lines all the present would offer him. Stimuli in superabundance were there for his senses to feed on and naturally no need to slow down ever appeared.
Just take a look at one of his numerous self-portraits now at Leopold museum, Vienna.
Because you can see it staring at you – the lust for a moment felt.
Patricia Beykrat – the Roving Aesthete