I’ve collected Patricia Qualls art for several years now, and I am in good company. Beyond being an artist whose energy, empathy and clear vision speaks through her canvases, she’s a smart-as-tacks person and arms-wide-open kind of friend. Patricia is hidden gold in Carmel Valley.
California recently tried to outlaw gold mining in these mountains, but you can follow a lovely winding road down to her gallery/studio and uncover it still.
Her favorite phrase is “run the experiment.” She told me this as I held a hair pick slathered with color over a blank piece of canvas (too chicken to pick up a brush). Her twinkle eyes convinced me to paint one day while on a studio visit. We were at the point in the process when the white paper yawned wide and my hand hovered in midair, paint dripping, stuck in a fear struggle between desire to create and ominous-cloud certainty that the outcome would be total crap. I listened to a silent thought croaking, I have the talent of a toad. A warty toad. A talentless warty toad.
She said, “run the experiment.” And the pick finally careened toward the canvas. See, I am the sort of person that demands a beautiful result every time. Like Venus rising from the waves. In my imaginary Pintrest life. Forget the wild impossibility of this thinking -of catastrophe courting this high-stakes perfectionism. Venus rising is a myth, an ancient lie.
Forget beauty. Damn expectations.
Run the experiment. Try things out. See what you like. What pulls you forward? Swirl it all around and do it again, and again.
Do thousands of them – Patrica did. Play outside the margins of myopic judgement. Run the experiment. Let’s just see what happens. . .
If you are lucky enough to stroll the storybook streets of Carmel by the Sea, smelling the saltfresh air with the taste of anticipation on your tongue, and just happen to stumble into a dimcozy canvas-crowded gallery – this is what you will find. A bit of treasure poking out from behind the corner.
You were not looking for it, but it was looking for you.
The yearning in this figure strikes me like a lighthouse – silent searching. She sends out energy, a broad light beam, and it spots me. Perhaps feeling what she is feeling. Like there is so much to know, to experience in life. I throw out a net, gather it up, sort through the seashells and bones to make sense of it. To understand what must be understood. To buy ambiguity a second cup of coffee.
An “answer” caught in a cloudswirl of information, shot through with rainbow of emotion. Saffron hope glows in the upper right corner.
I want her to find what she is looking for – to find the right question to ask. Surely it’s inside her, so she reaches inward. Maybe it’s right in front of her eyes and if she extends her hand she will touch it. Feel its weight, round and smooth, and slide it in her pocket – smiling.
California Dreamin.’ No people here, though. Only smooth linearity and cool contrasts. If it weren’t for the live-edge, vivid color I’d turn away from these surgical lines. But there’s a mystery here so I’ll bite.
Sink down, down through the linear elements. The flat turquoise sky, faintly lined. The terracotta boxed house. The tan expanse of pool deck. The aquamarine pool. All stack on top of each other, neat blocks with no beginning or end. The right and left sides of the canvas push out infinite edges. Lest all this eternity disturb us, Hockney adds two vertical palms with quirky feathered tops. Rests our eyes. Another bristled stretch of grass to soften the lines. I notice the director’s chair, a silent judge sitting. A clue.
Everything static still. Listen to the heavy heat breathing and the cicadas’ distant chatter. A yellow diving board slices diagonally through the water and something careens off, diving or cannonballing. A big, big splash. A very large person or a not-person?
Watch the scale of the splash. It’s quite high, as high as the house or higher even. It appears larger because it’s closer to us and the house smaller because it’s farther away. But Hockney is playing with perspective. He intentionally flattened it out with the linear elements, but now baits our depth perception with this gigantic splash.
The chair is sooo small, so far away. The splash, tsumnamic in proportion. Is the splash so close to us? Then pool and deck must be very long indeed. Yet they appear too thin in terms of width and we don’t seem close enough to the splash to get soaked. Terrible Hockney to tease us so.
I’m working up a sweat; my toes curl around the pool’s edge. I’m gonna make a wave myself. Geronimo!