22 September 2019

waves and waves of familiarity

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 4 September 2019, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

It often occurs to me that when I venture out to my motif each afternoon I am never sure what I will paint. All I do know is that by the time I have prepared my palette, it is always 'the motif' which will guide me to a visual solution. I have by now learned to completely trust this ritual. After 2 1/2 years of this very 'site specific' work, not only I have I come to trust this motif, but the motif has come to trust me. And, I realise what a particular thing it is to say such a thing. It is the process of creation which is out of mind.

One of the wonderful aspects of pursuing this 'motif' is that the conditions are always different; what with the look of the sky and sea, as well as my own mood each day, it is the continuity of this work - one which might drive another to boredom - which has pushed me into  a new dimension. 

I have been reading Rothko's notes lately and he said something which I underlined because I found something in it which rankles my own understanding of Painting. Writing about Romantics, he wrote:

"They failed to realise that, though the transcendental must involve the strange and unfamiliar, not everything unfamiliar is transcendental."

I read this sentence several times and it still rather confused me. The first part of it is bothersome because it contradicts how I understand the paintings of Monet who repeatedly worked motifs over and over again, under all sorts of weather conditions. What I always glean from Monet is that the Transcendent comes out of the familiar in our painting experiences. It is in the repeated access to the familiar that Nature opens her wings to us, and allows the strange to appear in fact. The second part of the sentence makes sense.

And so it is for me that a horizon line dividing the sea and sky has given birth to an endless flow of images for me, as many as there are waves over the sea.

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