Private Art

Months ago, I wrote that I had taken up acrylic painting for a hobby. I’m still doing it and I cannot tell you how much I enjoy it. I like to paint things that just appear in my head, like faces in swirls of color, as well as things that appear outside my window, like a willow tree that looks different and more intriguing to me every day.

That willow tree is especially amazing in the moonlight.

I have spent many a wee hour of the night and morning, flicking the light on and off – off so I can see the tree… on so I can see my brush touch the canvas – to paint that tree in the moonlight. I finally discovered that my Kindle light could be tucked into the top of the canvas, only too discover after the sun rose that the light didn’t offer me enough to actually paint what I saw. Rather, what I saw on the canvas didn’t look so good in the light of day.

Oh, that tree! I love painting that tree. The midnight blue sky that ends at the bumpy horizon. The green and yellow tree becomes black and gray. The hill upon which it sits becomes obsidian and slate. When I stare longer, I begin to see hints of green and a strange, rich burgundy. I love painting that tree.

BUT, I won’t show it to you. In fact, I am no longer showing any of my paintings to anyone. I’m giddy and filled with the torrid temptation to break my own rule at the thought of it. I have been showing off my paintings to friends and family. I have a small group of loved ones, to whom I send periodic cell phone pics of my paintings, so they can watch them evolve (one of my favorite aspects of the painting is the evolution, but then again, I’m a theatre person at heart). Even those folks don’t get to see the paintings any more.

Ahhh, the mere idea of art, just for the sake of art, just for the sake of me creating that art, makes me squeeze my knees together in delicious anticipation. You see, I am an actress; I have spent most of my life learning to hone a form of art specifically for audience consumption. I fall in love with my characters as I read the script and analyze my every motivation in the quiet of my home, knowing that the way in which I present my art must be digested by unnamed floating faces in the dark of the theatre. It’s like stripping naked and dancing in an apartment on a crowded boulevard at night, with no shades on the windows. But I just want to dance. How different my dance would be if I knew no one was looking…

This idea of the tawdry voyeurism of the theatre became most known to me when I began to direct. My shows were such delicate tapestries of story-telling. My casts, designers, technicians and I created such intricate finery. I dreaded the disruption in balance those strangers would bring. Those people in the auditorium were Johns with fists full of cash, paying to dally with my precious lovelies.

Yeah, that sounds really dramatic, I know. What’s your point? We ARE talking about the theatre, after all. What? Did you expect me to sound dry and pragmatic about this?

Okay… I wrote a profound and never before seen algorithm on the chalkboard and then invited strangers off the street to press their faces against it.

Got it?

So anyway, now I’m painting and I finally have my precious, private, tangible expressions of emotion – my emotion – and I’m not sharing them with anyone. PRIVATE ART. This is like singing in the shower at the top of my lungs. Not because I’m rehearsing or honing my chords for anything… just singing for the joy of creating an expression of my immediacy.

My immediacy…