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Notes from the Studio
A little update from a Really Transient Month.
Since we last spoke, I’ve moved house, got my bike in gear (b-dum) to ride to the studio, hosted the first Blue Palms evening, met friends old n new.. among a plethora of other things. It really has been a month of transience.
A number of friends have recounted feelings of bizarre energies lately, which could *possibly* be something to do with the Moon.. I wonder if you had the chance to see August’s Blue Super-moon, from your part of the sky? Here in smoggy London, it heaved itself over the rooftops in a burning pink haze. Magic. Whatever is happening in the planets, it feels there is a shift in my direction of work too.
Etymological nerd that I am, here’s a breakdown of what transience means:
My mind drifts to Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines. Chatwin travelled through Australia, involving himself with Aborigine people, and documenting what he learned from their culture.
A poignant thought is about the need to move, or be transient.
Songlines, as I understand them, are songs that were made by “Creator Spirits” during a “Dreaming”1; they involved vocal sounds & indications that represented landmarks, sites and locations of note. They were a navigation system, as committed to memory via song. The reason for this, is that aborigine peoples seldom dwelled in places for long periods of time - as we are accustomed to in the West. These songs were not only signals of their physical landscape, but also of the pyscho-geography through which their people travelled and navigated.
Here’s a (somewhat brutal) quote from Chatwin:
Sluggish and sedentary peoples, such as the Ancient Egyptians-- with their concept of an afterlife journey through the Field of Reeds-- project on to the next world the journeys they failed to make in this one.
Contrary to our more ‘sedentary’ life choices, aboriginal peoples kept in motion, migrating across their land.
* * *
I guess, I am interested in the idea that nothing is permanent. Everything shifts, gradually… and abruptly. Landscapes change, horizons shifts; as do our homes, our relationships, our opinions. Layers build, dissolve, dissipate or come through stronger, maybe with more resonance.
These experiences all form our anima, which responds to each given moment, like interior weather. Given the extent of time + space through which our anima travels, we might also consider that our anima may consist of a certain sort of ‘interior climate’?
But let’s not dwell too much in d e e p thought! Let’s look at some painting!
Splurging out from the line drawings that have underpinned my practice, I’ve been playing with oil paint. It’s vastly different.
At first, I (unintentionally) played it ‘safe’… Stemming from a vaguely yogic posture I’d found during my morning practice, I essentially intended to recreate this feeling in paint. I was faced with the choice of colours - muted & light definitely suited.
Then I set about the composition - I drew a vague re-presentation of the pose. Cool.
… and yet, when I looked at the painting, I felt nothing towards it. There was no anima present; there was a safe construction of line and shape, of colour and brushstroke. It was illustrative and patient. Stagnant, almost. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know I’m far more expressive and spontaneous.
So, with a little help from Patti Smith’s Horses, I attacked the painting. I loosened my wrists, switched to palette knives, got my oil pastels involved. I think I may have been dancing.
It. felt. great. I was not dwelling anywhere, I was moving across the canvas; moving through my interior feelings, and indeed those induced through Patti’s music.
I was transient. A L I V E.
This painting is evidence of multiple trips to its space. I have it next to me, stapled to the studio wall. As I write, it’s tempting me to lash some mahogany down there or whip some white across a corner. Maybe think ah what the hell,fill it all in black.
Do not fear mistakes, there are none. - Miles Davis
Moving forward, I want to maintain this spontaneous approach. I shan’t copy a previous thought, but lean more into my intuitive mark making; rendering my inner world and expressing in the moment. The layers built will be traces of this journey. The art will probably come more in knowing when to stop…
I confess it feels quite vulnerable for me to post my work from the studio here; oil painting is a new one for me. If you’ve any tips, advice or pondering, please comment below. I’m wanting to learn as much as I can.
We’ll round all this off with another soundtrack. Has to be Patti. Gee El Oh Are Eye Aye.
PS. Just want to say thanks to all those who came along and contributed to Blue Palms this month. Here’s a little snap from our meeting, taken by Jordan. Full essay coming out later in September.
Message me if you want to book your place for this month / know more about what we’re up to. Ta-ra for now.