Thursday, July 8, 2010

Carolyn Bursa

I often measure my driving distance by the number of tracks I listen to on the CD player in the car. As I pull into Carolyn’s driveway I notice I have been through seven tracks of Dave Brubeck; more than most journeys this week. I should have packed lunch.

After coming to some mutual understanding with the dogs I am ushered to the kitchen of this very welcoming home. Carolyn prepares tea and, without hesitation, launches into a reprimand on the value of higher education for artists. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s reflection: ‘I never let a good education get in the way of my thirst for knowledge’.

Before I go any further, please let me digress.

Blend or mash dates, walnuts and raw beetroot. Form a small ball with the mix and embed a chocolate chip in the centre of the ball. Roll the ball in sesame seeds. Eat the entirety. Then have a second while no-one is looking. You may have tyo fight the dogs off as well.

Carolyn is a teacher. She may lead you to believe she has retired from teaching. She may believe it herself but there is still a great deal of ‘teacher’ to come out in the wash. I listen attentively, as one should. She is well versed in her arguments and delivers them with pinpoint accuracy. I am enthralled and captivated. We wander through the house filled with her art (and others). A haphazard orderliness is evident. She displays her work with a strong sense of pride. I’m content to look and absorb both her knowledge and her skill as an artist. Telling Carolyn that I think her paintings are good seems a bit patronizing from one so ignorant. But they are good!

We cross the lawn to a cluster of trees beside a pond. The dogs move in for the kill on the left-over’s of morning tea. Have you ever noticed how Blue Healers smile when they get their own way? We pass through the overhanging folage and aother world is revealed. Carolyn’s studio is purpose built. Carolyn needs to keep this place a secret. She could lose friends if the word got out.

There is more evidence in the ‘teacher’ in her.
Small sketches and successions of drawings; signs of a plan. I am getting an inkling of how she works and how she conseptualises her paintings. There is a strong feeling of the ‘artists eye’: a combination of vision, creativity, skill, knowledge and endeavour, built around a good plan.

I am amazed at the number of paintings she has ‘on the go’ but for someone who works in this manner, I can see how it might be done; something like juggling the activities of twenty-five kids in a language class.

 I remind myself that there is another life beyond paradise.

Carolyn sits comfortably for the photographs. As I focus on her with the backdrop of one of her unfinished works, I begin to see where all this is leading me. I have puzzled with the idea all my working life with the dogma that we should separate what we do from what we are and the notion of finding within us the ‘real’ self. Seeing Carolyn (and all the artists I have spoken to) against the backdrop of her work affirms my conviction that what we do is what we are. Artists often claim they give of themselves when they work. They know what they are. With art it’s re-assuring because it’s valued. Too bad not all of what we do is as good as what I have seen today?

I wish I could paint!!

Now look what you’ve done.

Thanks Carolyn.

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