In Black Elk Speaks, (being the life story of a holy man of the Oglala Sioux, as told through John G Neihardt) Black Elk explains how his power derives from visions he experienced on several occasions throughout his life. He says that in order to use his power, he has to ‘perform’ these visions on Earth for the people to see. He also says that when he has performed a vision, that power is in some way used up and he loses it.
Whilst I do not believe in the supernatural, or the literal power of visions, I see a parallel between this idea and my painting. When I have an idea for an abstract painting, it exists only as potential. There is great ‘power’ in this potential – something that could lead to any number of new images, new ‘visions’, new worlds. This power only has any meaning, however, once the idea is ‘performed’ – once I have used it to create a painting. Once I have done this, the new creation – the painting – exists for all to see, but the potential – that great power, is lost to me, and cannot be reused. Every painting feels like a part of me that I have given away.