Silent orchestra. Silent for now while my ears grow accustomed. New sounds, new melodies but the beat is as old as time.
Currently rereading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn. I read it once before over a year ago and see that I have underlined more passages than I have done in any school text.
The passages that struck me then as particularly resonant are today even more so. I’m grateful to have made indications to such passages as I know they are they’re readily accessible to me whenever the need for sustenance arises.
On the pursuit of gaining an understanding of himself he says
I couldn’t afford to leave things hanging in suspense that way- the mystery was too intriguing. Even if I had to rub myself like a cat against every human being I encountered, I was going to get to the bottom of it. Rub long enough and hard enough and the spark will come
The painting is a new work in acrylic.
I’d never taken a class in painting before although I had attended life drawing classes very sporadically several years prior. It was a daunting proposition. Absolute beginner territory and all kinds of difficulties presented themselves all intensified by my performance anxiety/dyspraxic tendencies that always accompany any learning that involves any degree of complex manual handling. For me painting comes under that category.
Painting from life involves new curious and complex interconnections between my brain and my body. The assimilation of a multitude of new arrangements; being able to see the subject, holding the brushes, standing on the best side of the easel to get the best view using my dominant hand which is my left one. The effort of getting to grips with all that threw me and my system into a frenzy which was exacerbated by the familiar sense that I was alone in struggling with them.
Expressing the challenges I found very difficult this increased the anxiety. Instead I did my usual. Much knocking about and fumbling with the paraphernalia while muttering to myself. This is how I normally cope in such situations.
The teacher was very helpful. Quietly each student’s set up was assessed to ensure that each of us were working in the most comfortable position. His manner was also helpful. He was confident in his ability to address the issues which gave me the space to have my particular difficulties and to let him observe me and see where the difficulties were arising.
I felt entitled to go at my own pace to explore the situation. To find my place in relation to all the objects and facets involved in this new process.
Getting to grips with the material was another challenge I felt somewhat intimidated as I think I was the least experienced painter in the class.
Again I felt secure enough to express my need to practice first before joining in with the class who had set to work on the nude tableau on large prepared canvases.
The week was intense I felt as if I was in constant battle with myself. My concentration was fierce and I could physically feel my brain making new synaptic connections. It was definitely one of the most rewarding learning experiences of my adult life.
On the last day I felt a sense of a breakthrough. Something had shifted and the process felt enjoyable. The effort and struggle yielded a little magic in the eleventh hour. The week of learning was a deeply enriching occasion. During that weeklong class I endured a brutal confrontation with myself and came up smiling.
I spent seven months in Malaga last year. While I was there I did a lot of writing and a fair bit of drawing and painting too. Southern Gothic was also painted by myself in this wonderful City. Times were hard and my resourcefulness came into play. I collected boxes and boards to paint on. There were plenty of stores discarding packaging about so I helped myself to what I figured might work. It freed me as there was a steady supply.
Malaga I’ll always remember as the city of palm trees. Giant tall palms stretching up up into the impossibly blue skies above making happy homes for parakeets who nest in them in large numbers. Bright green noisy fellas that are hard to spot but impossible not to hear. I was enchanted by them and through observance noticed that they like to come down and feed from the ground on grass seeds I suspect each afternoon at around 4pm.
Birds and palms played a big part during my Spanish sabbatical and naturally they made their way onto my creations.
This work is a study in oil pastels and acrylics of my back garden. A haven for birds and so a haven for me. I spent hours just sitting and staring out that window feeling grateful. I won’t describe it how it looked as that is what the picture is for.
The strengths in the piece are the contrasting textures and the bright harmonious colours. I took the palette from the natural scene and embellished it with an impressionist splash of fiery red. Perhaps the Andalucian spirit was in me
I see plenty of flaws in it too. The perspective is off. Buildings are things I’ve always struggled with, even in photography I can’t make them look right. That blackbird up on the wall is a bit of a turkey too but for all that it still portrays a little the magical experience of being a Malageno. It has the feeling.
A figurative work also inspired very closely from the work of another artist. The original painting was in a wonderful museum in New Orleans. Ogden Museum of the Southern Arts. A captivating venue filled with rich and inspiring treasures. It held a great deal of folk art which I adore art of the region I was deeply moved by my visit and would highly recommend visitors to the city to tap the into such an incredible resource. I often find art museums to be staid sterile experience this one had a decidedly different effect on me there. The building felt alive with stories and energy.
I took several photographs from my visit. It was inspiration overload.
I made this painting from a photo of a very powerful painting in that same museum. It stayed with me and I returned to the photo many times until eventually I felt the need to paint it myself.
This was my first canvas. Bought on the cheap in Tiger along with some cheap acrylic paints and brushes. The painting took several days. I enjoyed working on it a great deal.
I made a good fist of getting the colours I wanted early on and managed to recreate them again on subsequent days to a satisfactory degree.
The image both my version and the original is of a dark nature. The figures are solemn and the female on the right is ghostly a scary lady as my niece described her. A different outsider Gothic America.
It also speaks to me of a famous Irishman his wife and beloved daughter. I see James Joyce and Lucia in the pair on the left and in the spirit of Nora apart from them.
Here is my painting at a very early stage
And here is the original work. Sadly I did not take note of the artist. If anyone happens to chance by here and know of this work I’d hugely appreciate the artist’s name and the title of the work.