I love listening to podcasts in the studio, and today I was listening to an episode of The Savvy Painter Podcast with the artist Michael Mccaffrey. One of the things they spoke about during the episode was that Mccaffrey feels like he goes through a process frequently, whereby he will ‘get ideas, rules, [and] systems will develop. And then it’ll reach a breaking point, and [he will] need to tear that all apart, and revaluate it, and re-structure it, and then start to build again.’ This process is a ‘cycle’ for him, it keeps him ‘interested’ and ‘open to discovery’ within his practice, it ‘surprises’ him.
This description struck a cord with me, because I feel like I am on the brink of a sort of morphing of my process, and I am now aware of it.
It’s quite scary, and I don’t know if this new painting I’m working on is any good, and I also don’t know what I’m trying to do by painting it. When I was at university, I would read read read, and the purpose of my painting was dug, pulled, brushed, excavated, up through reading and reflection. My method was refined as my purpose was exposed. Or at least that is how it feels in my memory (having a look back at old posts might shed light on this).
Since being at uni, before the pandemic hit, that method of working, has carried me forward. But the painting hanging half-finished in the studio right now feels like a break away from that method, and possible that aim. I think I need to ride the waaave.
But let me actually share the painting as it’s looking so far.
So, it’s totally from memory. Of my impression of the railway track I stand on every morning to go to the studio. And then, glazed on top, are these vibrant green abstract forms. The idea for the painting came to me when I was standing on a platform whilst listening to the sounds of a forest. It’s been driving me a little mad not going out into the non-human world every morning, and I have been listening to nature soundscapes as a way to calm those feelings.
As I listened to the audio on the platform, green, semi-transparent shapes emerged into my imagination, overlayed over the station. It sort of follows a wondering I had, of what that place, exactly where I was standing on the platform, would look and sound like, if this station wasn’t here, and non-human vibrancy, life was let to exist.
The slip of blue at the top of the painting is also of some importance. As I stand at the platform every morning, I look up at the sky and notice what the weather is doing. That patch of sky reminds me of the biiiig sky on Agnes – massive and vast and ever changing, down on the campsite. Incredible, breathtaking. That experience has become a part of me? Cheesy. And now, when I glimpse a sliver of sky here, I feel, well perhaps it doesn’t matter how I feel in each inividual moment, for this painting, or perhaps I’ll gain insight into it. But I am painting that bit of sky, the impression of that bit of sky. Summing up the sky as seen from my phenomenological and personal, subjective view of the world, which so happens in my case to be the reminiscing of the memory of one place, with the present reality. The sky is different here, and yet the same. Frustratingly close, but BLOCKED. NOT IMPORTANT. I write in caplocks because that’s what I feel the impression of London leaves on me, in relation to the sky. This painting, like life – is everything impressed, vibrant, just one. It doesn’t make sense in the same way nothing and everything doesn’t make sense. I don’t make sense.
I struggle to write nowadays about ‘my’ ‘experience’, I struggle to find the words to describe whole events, places-as-events that is all I have so far. This is because I am halfway through Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett, and my perception of how everything is ‘constructed’ is changing, shifting, being challenged, and my vocabulary is of course shifting as well, because language and perception are one and the same.
So I’m being brave and trying this painting out. Well, doing it. Making it! So let me continue.