Wednesday, 21 March 2012

the sky

I continue to draw/paint the sky. Or, not to paint the sky, at all. I remember about a year ago thinking, that's it, I want to paint the sky; noticing how I stared at it all the time, watched it change throughout the day. And then I immediately thought, how audacious, don't be so ridiculous. The ghost of Turner leered at me. And I used to have this fantasy, every day, as I walked, of standing in the long grass with a big loose piece of canvas on the ground before me, painting away. But I couldn't do it. How do you paint the sky, I kept thinking. How could you even start?

It looks to me now as if one of the problems was that I was thinking about the painting I would produce from this process I took such delight in fantasising about. I decided, before I had even started, that the painting would be so small and inadequate, compared to the sky, that there really was no point in beginning.

Now, as often as this grey Scottish climate will allow me, I'm out there, sitting in the grass, working under the sky. And, as I've written about before, I slowly begin to realise that the painting or drawing that comes out is less and less what it's all about. Never mind 'capturing' the sky. Never mind whether or not my painting 'looks like' the sky.

I can't begin to describe the process, the experience, of sitting outside, listening to birdsong, looking and looking. Looking, and in response to that looking, choosing a colour from my crayons which is suggested by what I'm looking at. It isn't the same colour, at all. It isn't, as I watched a Russian artist do in Tenerife, about holding the crayon up to the sky and trying to get the best match. It's about getting an idea from the sky. It might be an idea about shapes, or about colours sitting together, or a sense of movement. It's about learning how the materials work through using them over and over (in this case, watersoluble waxy crayons, which I will later flood with water which will more or less dissolve what I've drawn completely). It's something actually very simple, and it's more or less mind-free.

I'm freed into the present. And I can feel the effects of being regularly and so completely freed in this way in every part of me; in my body, in my outlook, in my emotional responses. Utterly cool.


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