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Notes from the Studio
It's. Just. Paint.
September has absolutely flown by. I was cycling to the studio a couple of weeks ago, appreciating the still-blue skies and full green trees - followed by a comical return home, racing the storm as it pressed its heavy dullness against the trees, crisping the leaves to bronze hues. Autumn? Is that You?
(that’s the weather report, now for the news)
This month I’ve been out and about a lot more. I’ve felt the need to draw inspiration from being out. Out out. Whilst I’ll harp on about anima for days, how that thing inside us drives us to move/make/do/dance/etc, this anima must also be inspired. A flame can’t sustain itself indefinitely!
So I’ve allowed my thinking brain settle back in the armchair of my mind, turning instead to the motions of daily life that play out in front of me. Dancing wherever, walking along clifftops, headstands in the park…
Turns out I’ve been particularly excited about graffiti covered walls. Who’d a thunk it.
It’s. Just. Paint.
That’s all I’m doing in the studio when creating canvases; pushing colour with feelings, attacking and soothing, harshening and softening, progressing and retreating. At the end of the day, it is all just paint though - need I create some sort of verbal rhetoric to back this up? Justify it?
Looking at these ‘Graffiti Covers’, its obvious the main intent is to get the nasty-horrible-unsociable-awful graffiti hidden.1 I imagine the person who is given this role does this must receive some sort of guidance, like:
’Albert Road. Needs Painting. About 1metre coverage. Red paint.’
‘Hanover Lane. Needs redoing. Yellow, again. Make it darker.’
Perhaps, though, it’s as simple as driving round in a van loaded with paint, vaguely picking a colour that is roughly the shade of the offensive wall, and sweeping a brush over it. (Can I have this job, please?)
I love the incidental masterpieces that occur. They’re all out there, particularly in London. All in textured painted glory. It’s taken me a while to understand what my mentor Graham Cornthwaite told me about the brilliance of these pieces - but I’m absolutely on board. It’s a free show for all.
So when I say it’s just paint, it both is and isn’t. It is quite literally so; but! In being so just-painty, it is so much more.
A bit like the Winnie the Pooh… He’s just a bear who is. No faff. No over explaining. No overthought. It’s the ultimate example of Taoism, as explained by Benjamin Hoff’s Tao of Pooh.
Let’s attempt to bring this all back round… Sometimes paintings are best left as they are; they needn’t be designed, so much as they are incidental. A bit like Jazz, trusting in the flow of the music, the textures of it all, allowing for very energising work.
This month has been great in encouraging my need to just be, to think less, to make more, to act. Let’s see where we are come November.
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I actually really like graffiti. It’s resistance. It’s expression. It’s not uptight.