31 March 2020

Hands and Clouds

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 26 March, 2020, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

Alors, this picture can out of a very frustrated painter who could not decide how to treat the vast mess of clouds in the sky. From the start I decided to grab the smallest of ideas which raced through my mind and to run with it. But I couldn't keep up with the changes going on as twilight accelerated which forced me into an idea, or concept, about how I might find my way into it. I was on dangerous ground.

Unless one is Bonington, or one of those magnificent Flemish painters of the 18th century, a sky full of clouds can be a hairy operation for an amateur like myself. There are too many problems with it! It is a lot like the difficulty of drawing hands. Unless one is Van Dyck or Van Gogh, one must be prepared to fail. Or, one paints them like Picasso with a graphic audacity which spins the attention of the viewer away from his mangled hands like a magician distracts his audience.

And these clouds overrun the sky, and they distort the distance which create a host of problems for the painter. How to push the horizon into the painting when overhead, a cacophony of clouds run amuck like children at recess hour.

This is how I felt. My idea was to fail without shame as the Buddhists love to say when beginning many activities:

"I am already dead!" they exclaim.

And I often use that idea when faced with a wall of insecurity like before an important  tennis match I will recite it to myself.

And so the other night, I just let go as if already dead, and something wonderful happened. I had decided to proceed differently, and I found myself on thin ice yet weightless. When I had finished I was very surprised by it. And I suppose, for me, that is the whole point of both creation and participation in art; the element of surprise.

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