Saturday, 4 February 2012

on having a (temporarily) clean mind

On the second day of sleeping, eating, waking and living ten steps away from the ocean, I began to experience the constant sound of crashing waves as a solid wall of sound. More, perhaps, than the normal cleaning effect of being on holiday (away from all sense of duties and obligations etc etc), the sound of the sea seemed to enter into every part of my consciousness, driving out all the stuff that usually sneaks in there to annoy me.

On this holiday there was no sightseeing or travelling about (apart from moving from the mountains to the sea after the first week). There was just the simply peace of a balcony looking onto the waves, out of season, on the north coast of an island in the middle of the Atlantic (Tenerife). Africa was the nearest land mass, and you could feel it in the vegetation; pines coexisting with cacti, palm trees and bouganvillea alongside roses and hibiscus. 

There was no disciplining or straining to 'get on with it' in terms of painting. Nothing seemed more natural, more completely what I wanted to do, than being outside, walking beside waves and prickly pears, studying colours, and occasionally doing something onto a blank page.

It helped as well that I gave myself a little project in the form of deciding to work in a small concertina sketchbook. Once I got over starting something so irrevocable, there was something about the building narrative, the sense of a story unfolding, which made the moments and the days count in a simple and delicious fashion.

But, for me, it's not difficult to want to respond to the world visually when I'm away from the grey skies of Scotland that I know so well. The lamposts and the dark hills have miraculously disappeared, and in their place everything is shining with reflected sunlight and the warm colours of .... well, anywhere south or east of the Italian Alps works for me....

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