I have been studying the view from my back porch for years. Years! Almost 20. Well, 17 to be exact. As a wannabe artist, I’ve been trying to figure out how to create an ‘interesting’ sketch, painting, photograph, video of the entire view. I’ve scratched my head, making lame attempts in every medium and even brought in others to get their opinion. You may think, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Just do it! The operative word here is ‘interesting’ and that is harder than you think.
My view includes a tidal creek that feeds into a meadow with lots of wildlife, especially waterfowl. We live in the fly zone. But, there is just so much to look at and it is so much more interesting in person, with the naked eye because it comes with an overall feeling of peace and calm. And, it changes hourly. Every six hours the tide turns and repeats its steady pattern of ebb and flow. Some of my photos of the creek are awesome but they still cannot compare with the up close and personal view of the creek and the meadow and all that surrounds it, that I enjoy every day.
Why can’t I ‘just do it’? Is it really sacrilege to try to recreate or model nature? Do most artists feel that they have only created a pale example of the real thing? Probably … that would be my guess. So why am I obsessed with trying to express or preserve all of what I see and get that same feeling?
Maybe that’s the deeper question that needs answering. Is it to lock in the experience, the time, the moment, the feeling, my feeling? That may be part of it, I admit.
The more I think about what it is that I love about the scene makes me realize that I don’t want the scene to change. But, every day, every year, it’s different and I love it every day, every year. If that is true, then I love change. But why doesn’t it feel that way?
While it’s true that there is an overall feeling that every season on the creek heralds, not every year is the same. I get nostalgic. I am capable of celebrating change but when it comes to change on the river, sometimes the thought makes me sad. It changes, I age, nothing is permanent.
Permanence! I think that’s the nut to crack. What is it about permanence that is troubling me lately and why am I using the view from my back porch as a symbol.
Then it hits me. One of my mother’s favorite things to do, just like mine, the entire family actually, is to sit on that back porch and watch nature. The back porch draws everyone out of the house to enjoy the day that change brings us. She is changing, aging. We are all aging. I am losing members of my family to the biggest change, death. And, yes, we’re all headed in the same direction, change and then death.
And, that is exactly what brings us our days, every day. Change upon change upon change … the sun and moon rise and set, change. The tide ebbs and flows, in and out, every 6 hours … change.
Change. It isn’t just coming tomorrow or next week or next month. Change is coming every second, for everybody. We all have the same changing experience and nothing is permanent. There is nothing to mourn if you want to live because every second of your life is about change. To get lost in mourning every moment, every day, every season, every loss, because of change will remove life from the equation and life is what we are all here to … overcome. Mourning does not help you overcome life, it gets you stuck and you stop living.
My attempt to recreate this scene, in whatever medium, is like mourning an understood loss because that moment, that scene will change. It is how we show respect by trying to preserve the moment, the memory, the emotion, the feeling of that place and time. Or is it?
These are some of the thoughts, questions and struggles that have weighed on me over the years whenever I try to tackle the problem of that view that I want to preserve. Why I do it, why I need to get the whole thing in one expression … maybe it’s time for an abstract painting.