Thursday, 7 August 2008

Wild places of their own

Late, after the final rumblings of thunder had moved on, I came downstairs for a glass of water. I could see the grey shapes against the rich wood of the piano, where I left them to dry on thick pads of newsprint overnight. I sat in front of them in the quiet darkness and could just make out some of the textures and stronger lines that seemed to have taken on a life of their own.

Thinking back, it was a precious time, yesterday. I worked differently, on small canvas boards, 5 simultaneously. Inspired by a page from an old sketchbook with tiny thumbnail ideas in scratchy tentative pen, I sketched these boards out in the soft black of pencil, just a few pointers. Then I got messy, squirted glue from a squeezy bottle to follow some of those lines, though not perfectly and leaving any mistakes where they fell, and finished off the session by throwing sand across the whole thing. Tapped off the excess and left them to dry while I went scuttling down the hill to buy bread for lunch.

Later, I scooped up gesso from it's cool pot and smoothed and scraped it into the surfaces, moved it in the general direction of my ideas but gave it a bit of spontaneous freedom as well. Cleaned up, left it all to dry again while I went for a tea time walk along the blustery beach listening to the spurts and splutters and myriad colours somehow made into sounds. Britten cello suites on my iPod.

Couldn't wait to get back home to pour diluted left over ink across the sketches, blue black and gritty from twigs and pens, tried not to make too much mess as I dripped over a tray, tried not to brush my hair out of my eye with blackened fingers. Then, I rubbed the ink into the grain and texture of the surfaces and wiped most of it off, like I was polishing them clean in the unflattering rapidly fading light. I left them to dry again and went off to open a bottle of wine and make dinner while blue lightening closed in and flashed, illuminating the room.

Wide eyed from splashing cold water on my face, I opened up the curtains this morning and threw the ruthless light of clarity onto you, while drinking my first cup of tea. I sat and looked from across the room, aware of runaway grains of sand against my bare feet. These pieces make up for me not having painted while I was away on holiday, and though not of anywhere in particular, it is no surprise that they are reminiscent of mountains, hills and valleys and heavy skies looming low. More representational than abstract, they are not of a real place. Wild places of their own, the more I look, the more accidental detail I see in them, somewhere unknown. Grey, elemental, textural and moody - these are unlike other work I have produced. It is tempting to leave them in their shades of grey, but my paints are almost bursting out of their tubes.