26 February 2021
25 February 2021
22 February 2021
20 February 2021
17 February 2021
14 February 2021
12 February 2021
Here is a deceptively simple painting which I had not at all appreciated until the other day when I saw it suddenly hiding behind more glamorous-looking images on my desktop.
Maybe it's boring, too boring to say boo to, but seeing it afresh after a month, I find truth in it which gives it validation, at least in my own eyes.
It has a layered feeling almost like wedding cake. And it feels flat which also appeals to me.
Despite being done on a windy swept beach in front of the sea it almost feels like it could have been made on a large table in a studio by a long squeegee full of pre-mixed colours.
And despite that there seems to be volume there.
I see that by turning out so many of these small studies on an almost daily basis, usually 2 or 3 at a time most days, I could imagine myself as a kind of sperm donor for small walls.
Maybe like for children, cranking out so many different little lives into the world, (though no wanking please! heavens!) is also a service of sorts.
Some will live long lives, while others will die shortly.
Lucky ones will shine in large homes, full of light, and framed with grace. But sadly, others will hide within unhappy walls, cornered equally, between the dingy and unpainted.
Yet still others will thrive in homes much loved and looked after in spite of divorces and deaths. Others will spend the rest of their lives entangled in cobwebs and some will hang at the end of a rope.
Some will be loved sentimentally, while not a few, are studied with critical, but reverent eyes.
Even so, as a painter without children, I am apparently, a giver of Life, in the end.
10 February 2021
09 February 2021
(The following is from my diary in Japan. It is self-explanatory. I have been thinking so much about wanting to return for a trip there. So I have been perusing my old diaries to understand what I was feeling while there.)
Osaka, 26 April, 2012
Municipal Art Museum
'Yesterday to the Municipal Art museum in the park of the zoo. A grittiest part of town. It is a large colonial-looking building with a well designed garden surrounding it. I arrived with only an hour and half to visit! Typically, I was late because I got a little lost, and the opening hours were shortened to due to something or other. It looked somewhat deserted and a bit sad and lonely, the guards seemed that way too.
I buzzed through the first few galleries full of funerary objects, already a premonition about this giant, empty place was building in my chest. I did stop with my heart in my eyes when I came across a large wooden structure which housed inside it a smaller wooden house of the 11th century. I could see that it had been re-built over the years. A magnificent sobriety for this mausoleum. In it a kind small banquette not 1.5 meters across where the dead where placed. It's simple design and its proportion reminded me so much of 11th century chapels in France.
The rooms were watched over by an older woman who dutifully stood guard and hardly moved. A curious life, not an easy one, but if one loved history and art, OUI!
Finally I arrived into the last rooms where were housed large screen paintings. Here, my heart really began to race. There were two 6 panelled screens on either side of the entrance in the large room. They were both two meters high and framed simply in black lacquered wood.
One was entitled
Japanese Cypress Trees by Haseguana Tohaku
with a poem by Kohoe Nobutada.
I have seen many beautiful screens before but rarely have I seen a masterpiece of such direct poetic and technical subtlety.
It is just a forest of trees, fading into the mountain mist. Still more forest trees climb further up the picture plane surrounded by an emptiness of space. Over it, almost like a kind of delicate graffiti several calligraphic characters are painted freely, flying up and over the picture surface. It seemed hardly believable that such a perfect thing existed in this world of man. I found myself frozen with that antsy kind of attention which feels like I am being rippled with anxiety. It happens rarely, but always in front of such paintings and drawings.
It is in fact just a mountain scene shrouded in fog, the trees disappearing in the distance. The artist paints with the greatest skill and sensitivity because his technique is as hidden as are his trees which disappear in the fog.
There was companion piece on the other side of the large entrance. It consisted of 6 panels also, and a large poem almost thrown across the empty surface plane. Nice, but not at all the same thing.
I hesitated a long time there, peering at the museum guard who was peering at me. Photography was proscribed and clearly marked everywhere. It was as if she was sure that I would make a move with my large Canon hanging off my left side. Like in a Western, who would make the first move?
I began to prepare the camera settings discreetly at my side and when she turned around I managed to get a shot. Not brilliant but at least a record of this thing which stole my heart. When she turned around again briefly I got another shot of the other one as well.
I wandered outside and made my way back to the hotel stopping for something to eat at a food stall.....'
08 February 2021
These are from last night. The skies have been somewhat stormy these past few weeks, indeed it's been a clement summer without that tremendous heat of last year. The days are never stable, they are dictated by bits of rain, sun, and clouds.
So thus by the end of most days, the skies look confused, which leaves a painter confused as well. But I show up to see what there is to do, hoping always, like a priest, to find light somewhere, anywhere.
I have discovered that if I am patient enough for the sun to set behind me, then a terrible kind of beauty settles into the sky to the west, in front of me. And this scene of what had been hitherto an unruly set of storm clouds, gently dissolves into a delicate lacework reminding of Holland.
The light then feels like that of the Northern Hemisphere, greyish with a delicate patina evoking the 17th century. It's not something I am after really, but the joy in painting such a sky is everything. It is this joy above all, eclipsing even the result, which matters the most.
These small paintings came quickly though not in order. The top image was the last one in fact, and my preferred one. The other two are OK, certainly, they had to be painted in order for me to get to the last one.
Looking at all three right now, I think of a gloomy pea soup. Mysterious, uncertain, wavering!
07 February 2021
This pink and orange towel below is the latest acquisition, and it came to me when a former girlfriend left the house with her young daughter. I was supposed to send it on with her remaining personal items, which I dutifully did, folding and packing everything with great care. But I kept this towel out of selfishness. (I am a towel thief!, enfin!)
I did so because I love the colours of it but also, I kept it due to a sentimental streak. I had wanted to keep it because during those brief years I had taught her young daughter to swim, braving the rough surf at the beach. These were joyful times. And afterwards, she would dry herself off with it and wear it as sarong all the way back to the car and fall asleep in the back.
She loved swimming with me, holding my hand as we confronted the large waves, sometimes going under them, sometimes jumping over them. "UNDER" I would yell out to her, or "OVER" at the last minute. This is a rough sea and she couldn't get enough of it, she was like a small seal sometimes slipping out of my hands in the force of the waves, and I would panic. I was never without fear of my great responsibility because people here often die on this beach every year. Sometimes the rip was so strong that we had to abandon swimming much to her displeasure but she couldn't know the danger. She knew only the pleasure, such is the innocence of youth.
But with her mother it was Danger and Pleasure mixed together almost as perilous as the Australian surf. What do we remember of these intimate relationships into which we find ourselves swirling around? What is it about these loves which ebb and swell, pullings you under, dropping you off, sometimes even letting you body surf with bliss between the sheets? Where do these memories dwell?
Inevitably like the dangerous sea, the fickle human heart rules. And too often, there is nothing which remains of the love affair but a towel and a few grains of sand.
Isn't that how God speaks to us of our time on earth?
04 February 2021
02 February 2021
Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 31 January 2021
Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 31 January 2021