Oil on Canvas
George Something-Or-Other I think
I came into possession of two filters during the week just lived, both quite different and yet...
It must have been Tuesday night I laid down that dollar bill (and by "laid down" I mean authorized a rather vast number of virtual interactions to conspire together) and bought myself a virtual good. The transaction and product bespeak of the current, the now. For, it is an effects filter for photos taken with my phone, and with this filter, I am now able to align more closely that picture of the mushrooms in my yard to the mushrooms in my minds eye. I can make my meager amateur work stun the populous like the professional and thus better relate the glow of life that I feel in that little fungus.
A certain precious member of my family came across this other filter with thoughts of adding it to our homely abode. It is an oil on canvas painting of a snowy mountain slope. Being displayed with many other items of life, it was picked up in that most public of galleries, the Friday morning trash pile. I suppose I must be clear, based on my primary evaluation of it as "well...its not terrible," the curb may have been a fitting exhibition.
However, unlike my first filter of the week, this painting is of the primary variety. It aligns with my choice of taking the picture of the mushrooms. On the secondary level, the only thing that stands between this painting and the halls of The Louvre is that type of filter that I purchased for a dollar. As my picture of the foliage now stands a strong chance of creating a stir on an online photo sharing site, all this rather rugged example of paint on canvas needs is a simple Edwin Aaron Penley filter for wider public consumption. The great masters could have made a mint had they only monetized their final touch.
Another thought occurs to me. As George MacDonald* would point out, this newly acquired painting, though lacking beauty and refinement in itself, is nevertheless a beautiful type of primary filter. The scene portrayed had to work itself through the mind and then the artist's hand to the canvas. Here-in lies the value! The painting is the most personal of filters! While my photo does little good until secondarily filtered (and even then its value remains questionable), this painting, though recently given the value of an empty Cheerios box, has accomplished a great thing in its time. It has done its duty of making the artist stop and consider the scene and work out its essence with effort and diligence. The scene could not be preserved without the labor, but now that the labor is complete, even if the work is found wanting, the artist is the better for the image has been impressed on his heart. I, on the other hand, quickly turn my photo into an Ansel Adams and ship it off to the admiring multitude without gaining that purposeful consideration of the subject. The difference is staggering and not a little bit indictive of the value of my "art."
Though some may like to claim many sins and weaknesses for our generation and despite that the sharing with the masses is simple, the weakness of self restraint and profligacy when it comes to someone's own art or creativity is not limited to us. One need only look as far as the excesses of a certain mother-in-law of Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge. While M.M. ruined much of politics and journalism for me (and I thank him for it), his mother-in-law almost single-handedly ruined art for me as well (without my thanks),…
"I stayed with Kitty's family in their villa; one of a number recently built close to the sand-dunes. It was the same disorderly, ramshackle household I remembered from the previous occasion. Mrs. Dobbs prepared the meals, such as they were; in the process getting herself covered with flour, caked with fat, sticky with sugar and burning her long leather fingers - sores which she ignored. If the conversation was raging - which it usually was - she would emerge from her kitchen, steaming saucepan in one hand, a ladle in the other, and join in. Her intellectual interests took precedence over all other; there were no circumstances in which she would refrain from participating in a discussion on immorality or the extent of space. Dead or alive, she was there for the kill. Over the explosive sound of a brew boiling over, in the lurid light of a roast catching fire, one would hear her proclaiming her views of the ego which affirms and the ego which denies. When at last her tumultuous chores were over, the last mouthful of horse-meat washed down by the last gulf of vinegarish vin ordinaries, she was off to catch the final light of the setting sun, working away with her paints and brushes as long as she could see, and even after. She did not really need to see; what she painted was the notion of a sunset, rather than anything she saw in the sky, built up from many sunsets, seen, enthused over, and painted over the years. She could do it in her sleep. When she died, she left behind her trunkfuls of paintings, all equally good, or bad, and mostly of the same subjects. The only thing she liked better than painting was having rows…"
... but the redeeming fact that each work could not be shared on a social network allows me to feel less inclined towards despair. Rather, I would remind myself of the benefit that can remain for the individual and nothing lost for the masses if one's work is not found available.
I understand this thought, as it is pretty well over, is disjointed. It has, however, worked out its value by working itself through me. Once Instagram adds filters for text and short written works, this will be safe to publish for the world to see. So, technology permitting, I will apply the "Dickens Filter" and have done with it.
On a high-backed wicker chair
Roeland Park, KS
Quote from Chronicles of Wasted Time an Autobiography by Malcolm Muggeridge
*MacDonald hits on this theme in The Seaboard Parish