17 April 2020

a submission to the painting not to the Motif

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 30 March, 2020, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

Bonnard once said a wonderful thing about Painting. Pierre Bonnard, along with Paul Cezanne, was a most patient painter. He worked and reworked his pictures for months and years on end until he arrived at that special depth of colour he so desired, enough that allowed him to quit the picture. Cézanne, it was said, might wait up to an hour between strokes of his brush. He once famously said, that his concentration should be so acute 'as to make my eyes bleed'.

But, Bonnard said something which spoke deeply to me when I was a student. He said, and I translate loosely from the French:

"Everyone speaks about this submission to Nature (to the Motif), but there is equally, the submission to the picture." 

I have never been too loyal to the 'Motif'. I use it only to garner enough information to make the painting. I am a sloppy expressive painter who likes all the drippy mistakes, but only as by-products in my quest to get a picture finished, never as an end itself.

So once a picture has been started it is a race to finish it before either the 'Motif' peters out, or I do. Moreover, once a picture has been started I am only ever interested in the picture itself, the canvas embodiment of my creative act.

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