Sunday, 12 February 2012

the doing of it

The experience of working every day by the sea, so easily, so consistently, has begun to open something up for me. When I was there, I remember thinking, this is why painting from photographs (as in, bring a photo along to the class and make a painting of it) is no good. I always suspected that there was some kind of subtle work involved in transforming the 3D into 2D, but I could never put my finger on what this was. It seems to be something to do with experience.

When people talked about product and process and said things like, 'it's the process that's important', I couldn't quite get it, because it seemed weird to say that in making a drawing or painting the drawing or painting itself didn't matter. But now I start to see something almost like this. I'm not 'inspired' by the British landscape in the way I've always been inflamed by the places I've travelled to. But I do see beauty and light every day. Whereas before I was always photographing it and wondering about what kind of painting I was going to make (eventually), I'm now continuing the practice of responding to what I see on a piece of paer with something in my hand. As I do this, a vague intimation about experience that I had on the North coast of Tenerife begins to consolidate.

It matters less and less what ends up on the paper. What matters is that I connect with the world - after all my years of deadness and all my procrastinations; after all my questioning and analysing and living in my head - through the worldess, thoughtless physicality of my hand on the paper. The doing of it, without the judging of what comes out - the simple, actual, doing of it, brings a deep, bone-tingling satisfaction that is somehow its own reward.

Yesterday I had 20 minutes outside before going to a friend's. I walked to my urban lookout - the area of scrubby trees, litter, a football pitch and view over the Ochil hills - and I sat, under a grey sky in the mist, and traced the outline and colours of a piece of bark onto my paper for about five minutes. And somehow, that was it. That was connection, joy, satisfaction, aliveness, completion. It was all I ask of the world and more. Quite regardless, strangely, of what ended up on the page.

For this, I came.


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