A Painting in ProgressThree days ago I began a module-art painting.  It will be made of six large triangles.  Each triangle is about five feet to a side.  The title will be either The Marriage of Energy and the Void, or The Marriage of Energy and Awareness.  I thought that it might be interesting for you to come along with me in making this painting.  When I am done, it will be a large hexagon that fits together, and will be made from the six triangles.  As it develops in my studio, I will share my feelings and thoughts with you about what it means to me.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to paint a large painting on stage with the dancer Robin Greenberg, a wonderful dancer, a magical painter  and a dear friend.  On stage, my back was always to the audience and the dancer, but Robin and I were both responding to the music.  Our gestures were probably parallel in some moments, but I was not aware of this. I had eighteen minutes to conceive of and resolve a six-foot-square painting that was the center of a large energy altar I had made.  I used premixed colors of house paint to work this quickly.

What amazed me about these experiences, as we did several performances in San Francisco and the East Bay over time, was that when the painting I was making would move into a place where it was difficult to resolve, and I would suddenly see how to strike a balance using one color that had a certain energy, a certain gusto, a specific shape in just the right place on the huge canvas, when I made this color appear the audience would suck in its breath in relief.  What I saw was that they were right there with me, every gesture, understanding what I was understanding, feeling what I was feeling.  From this I realized that painting could also be a performance art.  It was only circumstantial that artists are made to feel so alone in their perceptions of the world and in their chosen art form. People get it!

It is for this reason that I thought not only to share the making of this painting with whoever has an interest in this blog, but also to encourage other painters to see their art form through more social eyes.  Perhaps paintings should be recorded as they are being made, and presented as a performance.  On YouTube, for example, a given painting would have an actual audience, watching it evolve.  The process is compelling and fascinating to see. Our minds are more alike than we are made to believe, and this is perhaps the point of this article.  Just as the human mind has, built into us from childhood, a recognition of when a language is being used correctly or not, we share a knowledge about abstract progressions in time/space.  That is to say, watching a painting being made, especially an abstraction, makes a kind of sense to us all.  There is a way in which that painting unfolds itself that is not limited to only one right way, but when it is seen we know when it is doing it sensibly.  Music is the same. A melody unfolds, and although we may have never heard that melody before, we feel where it is going, and when it goes there, we swoon to its majestic beauty and to the mysterious truth of it.

It is never the mind that creates music or art, but the heart. Perhaps that is why we all know when it is opening as it should, even though it opens in a way never before seen and unique to itself.

My painting, the Marriage of Energy and Awareness, is a life’s theme for me.  Titles give the viewers a context that allows them to see a silent painting more or less as the artist wishes for it to be seen.  Abstract paintings often have concrete titles, and realistic paintings often have abstract titles. This strikes a balance and enriches the experience for a viewer.  If a painter wishes the viewer to have only the speechless experience of seeing, she or he may make a non-objective painting and give it a number as a title. This leaves the viewer a bit on his own.  To me, it is the difference between literature and film.  Joseph Conrad may describe a sunset in a way that has never been seen before, and his genius will give a reader a new world of perceptions by virtue of his words. A filmmaker can only show a sunset and hope that it is so beautiful that it will give the movie-goer a feeling that is profound. Sometimes it works.  I title my paintings as a way of setting the context.  This painting is about something. It is about the love relationship between Awareness and Energy, Awareness’ medium of Self expression.

In this first painting, I painted a dance of energy, light filled, momentary, and yet eternal energy in an endless sea of energies, all separate and yet conscious of the whole of energy performances.


These energy waves are created as ripples in a thick background medium. That is, they are inseparable from the unity of the whole. The energy wave-forms are like waves in the ocean. They are one with the whole ocean, shrugs, ripples, gestures that appear for an instant and then disappear. But they are the background, which is Awareness.

In the lower center, a detail will show an energy symbol of a male human-energy-being holding an offering in a basket.  This, to me, symbolizes  how this energy can suddenly step forth into a living expression that allows the Awareness to be manifested in a human expression of itself, and further, that this human expression can speak of the abundance of Awareness. It is Awareness that is aware of itself, appreciative of its own nature, and reflecting its own giving nature in the form of a human being giving fruit and gifts.  Clearly, each expression of Awareness is the very absolute center of the universe it is in and of.  I use painting as a joyful celebration of our being this Awareness, and I repeat its expression of Self as a human energy being.

Ross G. Drago

Paint Rag Magazine