I’m writing this in the last minutes, maybe hours if I stretch it, of time in my studio in Lion’s Head. Outside it is dark but the squall off Georgian Bay is shaking branches of the huge old maples outside my windows, rattling a warning that the drive home won't be that easy, but because I teach tomorrow I really should leave tonight and not chance an early morning start. I know I would stay up too late working on the painting I started today and the morning would come dark and far too early. Yet it is so hard to leave. Downstairs logs are burning in the fireplace and the shelves are full of great books. It may sound idyllic and it is, but there are costs.
As I was throwing paint all over the large sheet of watercolour paper stretched on a board on my table I kept thinking how much art is subconscious calculation. We don’t think of it like math, and not being a math whiz I shouldn’t be comparing, but as I am playing with tonalities and contrasting colours in an intricate balance of luminosity and visual impact the thought kept going through my mind how calculating it really is. Part abandon and part focused rigid method, it is illusion making that is as taxing in thought as any science or task that is not considered creative in itself, even though we know all things are creative in their way.
My painting or my attempt is a response to the light that plays across the yard in the evenings when it filters through the ring of tall evergreens that border the yard. They are now tall enough that the lower branches are sparse and create a lattice of branches that is played against a very simple but almost iconic trellis that sits in a bed nor far in front of the trees. The trellis is not extravagant in any way, just a simple gate that gets lost in the frantic growth of flowers each summer, but in the winter stands like a marker of space and scale.
On the weekend I grabbed a piece of paper that had something already sketched out on the front and flipped it over to try to capture the light and patterns of blues, siennas and greens. Of course there is the full spectrum at play as well as tonalities and values so subtly balanced that they can and do drive me to distraction.
The question is how to take a relatively dull piece of paper and make it glow with the luminosity of the warm background against more luminosity of the snow both in shadow and in streaks of light.
And so both joy and frustration as countless brushes full of colour splashed across the paper, and now unfinished I must leave, for a few days, perhaps weeks. But it has been good to feel that joy of seeing something emerge from nothing and to play with the balance once more.
Tomorrow I will visit the AGO after class and head off to the floor with the group of 7 to marvel at how well they achieved it. And then I will try again.
unfinished start after 3hrs of play