NOTES ON SUNSETS

by Nina Wengel

1. Every time I paint the perfect sunset: this is how it should be, this is the perfect shape. I see, of course, that some of the sunsets are not perfect. This happens when I lose focus, when I think of something which makes me anxious, sad, embarrassed, excited, angry…

2. Perhaps sometimes it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I just rush on to the next. It’s not perfect, it is how it is. 

3. Perhaps I should focus more? Perhaps I should not settle for so ugly sunsets. I should expect more from myself than this. They are not even on a straight line, not even measured so I will know whether they will fit into the material. 

4. Sometimes, I think I spend too much time on each, I should be more efficient. Other people, other painters, would be more efficient. By now, they would have found the perfect way of making a sunset. With perhaps just three brushstrokes. I’m just fiddling with my brush. Every time. I don’t know the right way. 

5. I google and find that sunsets are the symbol of something ending: end of a journey, death, literally or physically. 

6. To get it done. Get the work done. This is what goes through my mind. Then I remember that there is no limit to when I’m finished. 

7. I thought it would be easy for me to work now. Finally the decision was made: I’ll just paint sunsets! Problem solved, I don’t have to think, I can just perform. The dream of every painter - well at least me.  But then issues pop up that become huge questions in a small project: But which size? And why this size? Which colour? Start from the top or the bottom? It never stops, it seems. 

8. I try to go with the flow and at the same time I try to keep doing what was my first intention – just to paint sunsets and then do it the best way possible, on the materials I’m given. 

9. I’m painting – and waiting for this project to make sense to me.

10. The image comes to me before the word, and so I still feel I need words to explain what it is I’m doing.

11. I’ve been ill for some days now and wasn’t able to work. Does anyone care at all? I mean, no sunsets - does it matter?

12. As long as you do art, at least, you don’t do anything bad a friend told me. 

13. Is it relaxing? Is it a kind of meditation? I wonder if people can tell when my mind starts floating, it is pretty obvious, the lines move up and down, like they are visualizing the instability in me.

14. They’re not perfect, because I’m not.

15. This is how it is – being human.

16. I only know I should keep going. Some days, like this, I don’t know anything besides that. I don’t understand anything. I try my best. I don’t know how to do it better. I don’t know what I should learn from this (life).

17. The row of paintings could go on. My natural limit is the time frame set by the opening of the show. Otherwise I don’t know whether I would be able to go on one more day, or whether I would be able to stop. 

18. Is it sad or blissful, filled with hope, this repeated pattern? I’m not sure. It’s made hoping for something better to come but with the wisdom in mind that learning to enjoy what is, being satisfied with exactly that, is what must be headed for. Perhaps this is what I practice, a bitter sweet repetition, trying to accept the present in order to become at ease with it.

19. Materials. Lack of money puts me in a position that does not allow wanting specific stuff. Or so I tell myself. Perhaps what you get is what you want. Anyway, the simplicity of the situation sets me free, free from having to decide on material, its colour, its size. It’s perfect. What you get is what I got. Old cardboard, but in a lovely yellow colour. Snails at the back of it. Is this too trashy? Who is to decide. Do you see the idea of its beauty, its potential, its mouldy perfection? 

20. This seems like the least now-related work I have ever done. Why is this important today? It could have been done so many years ago, it seems. The shape, the repetition. But it somehow connects me to the past, the past 20, 100, 1000 years. And, hopefully, in that sense, to the present and to the future. 

21. Who knows what kind of collaboration one does across time and with whom? I do not feel this is just my project. Am I merely the executer?  I have some say in this, and my fair share of fun deciding on the size, the details of the shape, the brush or the pencil…but I did not develop this symbol nor did I place it in my mind.

22. A sunset. What does it mean? That this is the end, my friend? A romantic cliché, some will add. But to me, it is more of a sadness, however a comfortable one. Though…the sun will rise again, it also seems to say. It will be alright. Don’t you worry about a thing. This is the way life goes.

23. It reminds me of an eternity I cannot grasp. It holds promises of a future, but I cannot tell whether the promises are good or bad. 

24. When does it turn into factory work? Is it important? What is important? I do my thing every day, I’m beginning to feel a bit bad, if I don’t. The human mind is a funny thing in that sense – I should do good, I should do something, every day, to feel good about myself. Do I do good work (for society) by doing this work? What is good work? Every day people go to work and do or produce. Some things are obviously good, some seem less important, some even bad. I don’t know how to rate what I do.

25. If I stretch beyond my ego, perhaps I will reach something that is universal. 

26. I become aware of how easy my mind wanders off to other things. While marking the sunsets, I try to focus on what I’m doing making a nice shape. But then suddenly I’m caught up in other things. How it happens, I don’t know. I’m not sure I have become better at controlling this flow of thoughts, but now I am aware of how easy these little bugs enter my mind, hassling me.

27. I’m still here.

28. It’s boring, that’s what it is.

29. Where do thoughts come from? 

30. Repeating the symbol is a way of trying to find out what the symbol holds. What is it trying to tell us? Is it possible to find the words, to form a sentence in my mind, or will the meaning of the symbol only reach me on this knowing-but-have-no-words-for-it level?

31. Once you’ve seen the light, you cannot stay in this world. You will pass away or lose your mind. This is what experience has made me believe. Some things we are not meant to understand before the time is right. Some things are better left affecting us on a level that we cannot pass on by means of common words.

32. How to do it. How to live this life.

33. I try as I go along. Even within the painting.

34. An eternity. It’s there, and it’s beautiful.That’s what I need to communicate. It’s eternal and it’s beautiful. That’s it. 

35. I’m reflecting on what we tell each other. And how much of the information we pass on is useful to us. For whose sake are we communicating?

36. I cannot hide it anymore. The amount of sunsets is so big, it’s a statement.

37. My blood pressure is too high, I drink beet root juice to keep it down, everything turns red.

38. Sometimes while painting, in my mind, I’m already doing the next. It will be so exciting, I think too myself, the next one: better, more cool, more beautiful.

39. It takes an eternity learning to be present.

40. At one point I experienced being in a state of limbo, between the end and eternity, walking on the edge. Being, past being dead or alive, the scariest part was not that this non-existence might end, it was whether it would never stop, whether I would be trapped in that moment forever.

41. After the end of time comes non-time?

42. As the amount goes up, it becomes more and more difficult to grasp the amount of time consumed. How much is a lot? Because I’m working with the same symbol, people tend to think the time I spend on it is longer than if I had painted different symbols. 

43. I’m more scared of what might happen than I’ll probably ever be of what does happen.

44. Faith is such a vulnerable choice. 

45. Death. It sounds like a dot. But the symbols mark both the way to this point and the time after.

46. Sometimes I’m seduced, by colour, by material. Perhaps it was unnecessary, perhaps I should not have been so vain. But there is the eternal idea and the time-based materialization. Like I believe we are both a wave and a particle, a dot, like light. The aesthetic choices which seduce me represent the being-in-this-world, with the worldly joys it brings, like wearing a beautiful dress. I tell myself again and again that it doesn’t matter, but it does, since I’m in the world.

47. Perhaps next time, I can be more persistent.

48. No matter how much I try to simplify my process, there will always be choices to make. The choices become as huge as others and display a way of approaching life.

49. The boys are drinking red wine while I keep painting.I kind of envy you, one of them says. I understand. They seem restless, and I know this restlessness so well. But this is a self made-up importance. And I don’t have anyone patting my back telling me that what I’m doing is not insane, when I get up early, from the warm and cosy covers to paint, and when I keep on working instead of drinking red wine in the afternoon with the boys. 

50. NEED TO PAINT MORE!

51. The meaning of symbols change over time. So will I ever be able to explain what it means?

52. A sunrise, everyone besides me think it’s a sunrise. Why? Is it as simple as this: life is seen in either a negative or a positive light?