07 March 2024

The Japanese architect, meets Billy the kid and Ockam's Razor

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 28 February 2024, oil on canvas board, 30 X 24 cm

A few years ago I read about a Japanese architect who was explaining about the best placement of a garden pathway from the driveway to the home he had recently designed for a couple. He told them that he had not planned for it but wanted to let the pathway "just happen naturally over time" as the began couple living in their new home. Only then would the new occupants figure out where their pathway would spontaneously appear.

I loved that. And it came to mind the other day during my piano practice. As I've just started another learning a new piece by Satie, one I hadn't planned to memorise, (too much work and time!) I was faced with the notation for the fingering. This is the 5th Gnossienne, and the delicate fingering is really tricky.

Like all amateur musicians, I note the fingering whenever I begin a new piece in pencil just above the notes on the manuscript. But they can often change as I look for the better fingering to get me through each measure while preparing for the next one. So like the architect advised his clients, when working this out, I allow my fingers to find the most natural pathway throughout the piece, measure by measure.

So regarding Painting, I wondered what the correlation might be between this procedure and how I go about Painting. This question asks me to analyse my habits already developed over a lifetime of experiences and to which I don't think I have any answer. 

In this beach series where the focus is particularly narrow, with little or almost no deviations from a drawing perspective, there is a simplicity that borders on the austere because the motif is so Zen simple. In other words I don't have to subjugate myself to a procedure for these sessions. My procedure is already simple.

But, this architect's advice can work in every other part of my life and it can also sharpen the edge of another of my favourites maxims; Ockam's Razor, already, a practical vehicle for navigating intelligently through Life.

The picture above is from last week, it's one I like. Initially I thought it too sloppy, but now I'm not so sure. In fact over this past week I've come to really appreciate things about it. 

Below, is another picture from the same night. They have both been big hits on Instagram. Though I like the one above I don't care for the one below. It's a study that doesn't really do it for me at all. It seems to work, everything is in place, but it doesn't grab me, certainly not the way the one above does. So I am trying to see what others see in it. 

One thing I have shared often in these pages is that I really appreciate social media. It is a godsend for painters like me who live like spiders, high up in the corners, out of reach of  life below, where civilised, normal people go about a practical life.

I am continually surprised at what many people like and dislike in my work. I'm never offended just curious. I say this, but I admit that I didn't like someone the other day who wrote me to say that, "all of your pictures look the same". Hmmm, I fumed.

Of course, I immediately unfollowed him. So, evidently, I am curious what people think, but I don't want to put up with snarky comments that are just made to offend me. After all, I'm not famous enough to be trolled. 

And hey!, as my cousin Billy in the Bronx told me; "Thump the mother****er" first before he thumps you". This was advice that took me a long to time to exercise in my own life. But then, I'm still alive while cousin Billy was stabbed in the Bronx in a street fight back in the 1990's, so go figure. 

Anyway, like the Japanese architect suggested, don't make a plan, but live first, let the plan  unfold in the right place for you. Apparently, Cousin Billy had the plan but was just too early, and it killed him (just sayin). 

In this series, I don't have a plan but I do have a motif in front of me, and I use a simple palette of just five colours. I work quickly without hesitation, and also without conscious thought. Is that a plan? I'm not sure. 

But I'm still not nuts about the study below. Maybe I will change my feelings over time, but maybe not. Feelings about art do change often over time. Things I liked years ago are a no-go now, but conversely, studies I didn't see just a short while back can suddenly look like genius to me. 

Because I'm the beholder, beauty is alway in my own eyes, that's just the way it is because it's a rigged system and the painter always wins in the end.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 28 February 2024, oil on canvas board, 30 X 24 cm

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