Monthly Archives: November 2005

For seasons and reasons…

Saturday 26 November 2005

It’s been just over a week since I started my experimental “blog”, and I haven’t managed to keep up one entry a day. I’ve had one piece of feedback. This experiment is not showing the signs of fruit just yet. I think it is timely to look at some other artist’s blogs, and I’ve still to google “blog” as a term. The weather has been changeable too – we were all set for the big freeze which seems to have just passed us by. Yesterday, which was mainly dry and breezy, was interspersed with short flurries of sleet soon followed by episodes of sunshine. Even the talk in the village shop is how weather forecasts never quite come true; we have come to accept that we can and do have four seasons in one day.

Nature’s quartet has been a muse for many artists from Vivaldi to Twombly, usually and understandably as a series of four distinct works. As I write, the sun has slipped away yet again, a heavy lead grey sky slides in, indicating its arrival by the tinkling of raindrops on the window pane. Now, how to encapsulate this daily changeability, both visible and felt, in only one piece of work? Someone is telling me I should return to the humble sketchbook – remember, those small works of Constable and Turner? Haven’t you got a book somewhere? Yes, but I see the sun has come out again, and I really should tackle the garden pruning before it changes back again. Alas, the sunshine was only fleeting, reason calls, and so endeth this “blog” for now…

On painting…

Wednesday 23 November 2005

Time to catch up. I have had a good couple of days painting which feels good. However, my manner of working is so laden with an anxiety to get it right that I am exhausted. I have been making drastic decisions on how far to take a piece, layering, daubing and scrubbing back, with the result that I no longer have what I had at the beginning of the day, and a feeling of loss ensues. In normal life, I often deliberate too much, being overly critical in a desire for perfection first time. I have been reading An Archetypal Constable (by Peter Bishop); Amazon “recommended” this book to me based on my buying patterns) in which the author goes into some detail on the effect of “dewiness” in Constable’s paintings. Constable’s vision of England was one of a rich, fertile land, with little evidence of an encroaching Industrial Revolution. An almost spiritual respect for a land that gives us nourishment in all its forms pervade his famous scenes. I have been struggling with the effect of moisture, not the fertile, verdant vistas of Mr C, but the cold moistness of dark woods and composted bark. I have been splattering and spraying layers of varnish over thin washes of ink, sponging it back, so that when the light hits the surface it has varying degrees of refraction, illuminating in places and yet diffusing in others. I know I am not quite there yet…

A short walk to freedom

Saturday 19 November 2005

Today, we decided to go for a short walk in the crisp afternoon sunshine, after an Italian-style lunch. We followed a designated public footpath which appeared to go straight across a vegetable patch consisting of lightly frosted brassicas. Most of these path signs are wooden and weathered, easily merging into the organic surroundings. It became apparent this route was not taken often. The owner was outside, tending to a small pile of smoking vegetation. We walked through the sultry haze, hoping our presence was somehow softened by it. The right to roam is a “hot” issue at the moment. It’s all part of new access rights brought in by the countryside agency, meaning all maps will need to be updated. I’ve always been interested in maps since a short spell of orienteering at school. We had one class exercise in which we had to trace the map contours and rebuild the landscape in 3D. It gave me a new sense of the rich topography of maps and their relation to the actual environment, not merely defining conurbations, routes and boundaries.

white free-range hens in a meadow field

On our walk, we also came across hundreds of pure white free range hens scattered across an expanse of green, a somewhat poignant sight in light of the avian flu news stories. Next to this meadow was a small patch of dying sunflowers, allowed to seed naturally. Their withered heads, caught by the frost, brittle and greying upon stout, upright stalks, had curled inwards, producing quite grotesque but fascinating forms. I had to photograph them.

dead sunflowers

dead sunflower heads

The underlying association of all of these scenes seems to be that of freedom: of the right to roam freely, to live peacefully, to die gracefully. From the decay of old flower heads, happily left to nature’s means of seed dispersal, comes the possibility of new growth much further afield…