Tuesday, 5 April 2011

hauling back the jewels

I'm just back from another trip to London. Talk about a change of state. I eat it. I can't get enough of everything there on offer, and it makes me realise how important it is to feed yourself if you want to do any kind of creative work. When I'm there, I see things to paint and draw and study at every turn. Everything speaks to me, shouts to be made into something, responded to.

Quite hard to keep that sense going, though, when you get home again. Perhaps it's a bit overwhelming, all those ideas and images and possibilities. Perhaps it's just the reality of having to turn the responses into paintings, or drawings, or whatever it is. Perhaps it's the relative staleness of sitting contained within your usual four walls, compared to the endless joy of every blade of grass in Bloomsbury Square, every (superior) cup of coffee in Patisserie Valerie, the maddness of new sights and images round every corner. And the unexpected - finding that Cornellisson's, an image in my mind from being a student at St Martins of piles of rabbit skin size, jars of pigment, and ancient wooden shelves - had moved itself to be found, by accident, just down the road from the British Museum.

I thought I was going down mainly to see the watercolour exhibition at Tate Britain. In fact, I found myself going to look at Rose Hilton in Cork Street. Twice. Staring and staring at her canvases, looking at the paint.

I recently got completely sick of myself dancing around the idea of paint and just starting scrubbing around on a cheap canvas with some oil paints. Not reading about how you're supposed to do it, not planning it, just going for the sensation of paint on canvas. So looking at paint on Rose's canvases had a new meaning. My paint didn't quite look like that, ahem, so I sat in front of this particular painting for a long time, studying just exactly was happening there.

I also bought some tiny Fabriano sketchbooks from Cornellisson's, just the right size to put in my pocket, and have finally started drawing things when I'm out and about. Shockingly awful, but exploratory. Responding, finally, after doing it in my head, or through a lens, for so long. Drawing is still pregnant with potential disappointments, but every now and again I find myself doing it without thought - here I just suddenly couldn't resist the square white page of a book I was sticking recipes into....

So it's coming along, even if today it feels like wading through treacle....

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