Rosy Lamb

My model models.
I look at them and try to see everything around them at the same time. We chat, fall silent, listen to music. I work well or I fail to. The model can feel this. When I am struggling, the model asks me “how do you know when the painting is finished?” A trick question. My painting could finish at any moment, even before it is begun, when, like an angel, I am seeing clearly. It will never ever be done when I am full of thoughts and desires for it to be good, to make something of me.

The next day the model is back in position, both of us washed clean of our expectations by my failure to see clearly the previous day. We start again. In the stillness a right angle of light appears, nose and shoulder together form a perfect L. The bed triangulates. I see blue where there isn’t any blue. The model is careless and everything is here! A second chance. I start over.

In the family of things
In my paintings, a subject does not exist out of the context of their surroundings, outside of my mood and capacity for looking openly in the moment. To make a painting that contains some truth of what I am seeing, while allowing for inspiration, for the invisible, I must engage in an uncomfortable, combustive mix of detachment and intuition.
I respond to what I see in the limited time that my model can hold their pose, before the pain of staying still is too much for them and they must take a break, shake out their body, perhaps never to find the exact same pose again. Even If they do, our moods, the light, the outside world, something else will surely have changed.
While I work, I too must hold still, keep my eyes at the same level in regard to the model, and yet at the same time strive to be carefree, to accept what I can catch of this moment as well all that which cannot be caught, most of the scene printed only in memory.

Why would I work in this torturous way? Because our relationship, my model and I, our presence together, is everything that I want to experience, all that I want to express. Sometimes in my paintings, the model’s image is nearly erased, yet their presence remains.
Painting, while keeping time with my model, is a much more accidental process than to work from an idea of what I want to portray and why and how. The very strokes of paint are not decided upon by my mind. To discover what I am seeing I must learn to blindly follow the shapes and colors forming in my vision, without making any sense of them. It is an apprenticeship in faith.

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