21 November 2022

Dreams; prescient, and otherwise

These are small gouache studies done under the dry summer dome of the Drôme. It's funny to see them ten years later where I'm living now next to the sea here in Australia and also actively engaged in paintings done from the actual sea. 

In Montbrison in 2012, I was staying that summer in a small cottage above a shaded garden where I went early to work before the day heated up. I set up an old round iron table under the shadow of a large Tilleul tree (Linden family). Next to me was a tiny brook which ran all summer keeping the space green and the numerous frogs happy. 

I had begun fooling around with gouache in Japan a few months earlier while traveling there. I was really in an excited travel-mode having never been to Japan before. I had packed up and moved from the Belvédère in Dieulefit where I had lived for about twelve years. It was a monstrous move especially because I had no real idea where I was going to live afterward. All I knew was that it was time to move on and make an unknown change in my life. I would be leaving a small village where I had made many friends and acquaintances. I also knew that I wanted to make a voyage far from France that would turn me upside down before taking the next step in life. I had thought to go back to India on a drawing trip but the visa procurement was too complicated for my complicated mind in the middle of the complicated move. Fortunately, my painter friend Giulia Archer who lived in Truinas, a hamlet not far away, allowed me to put everything in her large barn for the interim period. I knew I wanted to go somewhere, to be somewhere in a new place where I could levitate upside down in a lost state in order to mark the transition from the comforts of life in Dieulefit to elsewhere unknown. 

Then it came to me that I would go to Japan. My brother had gone years earlier with his wife and extolled its crazy and beautiful virtues, so I went without hesitation. Of course I loved it like most visitors do who spend enough time on this extraordinary island. (What's not to like as we say in the Bronx?) But I loved it so much I went back again the next year, and if I could afford it I would even return every year. But anyway, that was already ten years ago and since then I have settled here in Australia next to the sea in Northern New South Wales where a thoughtful Muse so serendipitously placed me to focus on the act of Painting.

But for some strange reason after my return from Japan after I had settled into a small cottage life back in Montbrison, only a stone's throw from Dieulefit, and with a head full of uncertainty, I began to make these gouaches in the early mornings. I wasn't consciously thinking of the sea, and I certainly could not have imagined then that I would soon be living next to the Pacific Ocean with the ability to work from it each night. I simply began to make these things out of experimentation, for the uncertain fun of it.

A few were left in an unfinished state and I don't consider any of them great by any means but they do interest me mostly because of their prescient quality. They were speaking to me from the dry heat of Provence about future work, of a future life of which I could not have envisioned though only dreamed of maybe. But I certainly had the sea on my mind for I had prowled around Brittany several times thinking of settling there but nothing came of it. Then, of course the weather had never encouraged this dreamy state. But another surprise for me is that even after living in the remarkable south of France, and bathed in its colours for so many years, could I have possibly imagined I would be blinded by such light as I have found here in Australia.  

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads 4 June 2020 oil on canvas board 30 X 25 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads 17 April 2020 oil on canvas board 30 X 25 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads 9 July 2022 oil on canvas board 30 X 25 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads 13 April 2022 oil on canvas board 30 X 25 cm

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads 3 April 2022 oil on canvas board 30 X 25 cm

1 comment:

  1. I like hearing about your moving around and desire and ability to “upheave” your life. I also like the comparisons of these paintings a lot. Interesting the similarities, yes? Pam.