26 December 2020

scattered rose petals after a storm


Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 2 April, 2020, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

This is an old painting from April 2020 which I just saw on my cluttered desktop but suddenly 'saw again' which is a very nice thing for a painter. It means that the painting still lives, it still succeeds, at least for me anyway. And I am the most important person to please in this small cottage of a life I live. But hey! It's a great cottage.

It's not a picture that will knock your socks off but it is a decent replication of my session on that small dune up here on the North Coast of New South Wales in Australia. It is what I saw and felt, even without knowing what I saw or how I felt, but it's the painting afterward which tells me what I was seeing and feeling.

This is the marvellous thing about Painting from a motif over and over again. Perhaps like an actor on stage doing his/her 986th performance, the character has developed a life of its own even beyond the actor. As I wrote recently about Keith Jarrett; he said that he had no idea what he was going to play before he went on stage to perform solo, in Cologne, Paris, Antibes, etc, etc,,, When one listens to those recordings it is confounding to understand this.

But a painting, perhaps like a recording, is after, all a souvenir of 'an event', an experience empirically lived. This is something that has become clearer to me in recent years. On a simple level it is about making a picture which if good enough, can outlive its creator. On a deeper level it is not about that at all. It is really about  having the painting experience in front of an ever-changing Nature which the painter is simply graced to witness, and work from.

In my own case, I work lightning fast, partly because I am anxious by nature, but also because 'my motif' is the 'hour of the wolf', the twitching hour of dusk between day and night. It is when the colours are at their zenith which suits my nature.

I don't pretend that these pictures are great, high points of the zeitgeist today, but they are 'souvenirs' of a moment when I lived and worked there in front of the sea and the sky during a painting session. It isn't much in the grand scheme of things but it is a painter's work. I have learned from so many different types of craftsman  about this, not just painters, writers, and musicians.

This is just my small story, but like all stories, it leaves its own colourful traces like scattered rose petals after a storm.

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