Since the prams in the hall arrived, I’ve painted very little. It’s hard, sort of like anesthetising one arm.
But the years off have given me space. I feel a better sense of what I’m not painting. The beginnings of a shape to the body of my work, a feeling of its limits.
Developing and building in layers. I learn more with less. There have been many stages to this learning, and I’m only now approaching the brink of being able to make good work.
Making other work, like writing poetry, has given me a map of how to approach things – lightly but with sincerity – with courage and a suspension of second thoughts. To circle a problem, allow thoughts or responses to rise naturally.
Judgement is a curious thing – in the right state we make work and judgement is in the hand not the mind. It’s a strange state of not-knowing. Of faith, maybe.
Not courage, not recklessness, nothing so conscious. Nerves held in check, reactiveness held in check. I work despite my knowledge. Trust that what I do not do shows up in the work, that the history of all of my work shows up, even if only as ghosts or absences.
What we have not done also matters.
Scarlet ferries in the rain. Oil pastel is waterproof, but pencil runs and smudges. I’m reading a book about waves, and it’s changing how I’m drawing them.
A very fast sketch, from a photo. Woke to unexpected snow, drove in horizontal sleet, only to be told the ferries would be going off. The crossing that wasn’t. The great square lumps of the jetty are interesting, though, and the graceful, lacy little white bridges that connect them.
Petrol, Oil and Lubrication Depot. Ardyne
I’ve been drawing from life so far, but this one’s from a photo. When I got to the POL depot, there was a huge great military ship docked, crowds of vehicles, and nowhere to park. I wasn’t sure if I’d get a gun waved at me. So I drove to a spot quite far down the coast and did a drawing in which the boat looks tiny and absurd – a clunky great tub in a shortbread-tin picture. On the way back, I pulled up alongside the depot, and asked a man eating a chocolate bar if I could take some photos. ‘Aye, I think so,’ he said, and shrugged. The boat was vast and towered over me – grey and neon and awesome.
Breakwater at Dunoon
Today I was drawing the Linkspan (the blue structure) and the pier. Visually, it’s total chaos, and parts of it struck me as quite ugly – the peely wally pinkish paving tiles, for example. I found some good colour in the shadows, though, and it’s such a complex site I think I’ll go back. I’m looking for subjects for paintings at the moment, and this one is interesting – the focus for much argument locally and part picturesque, part eyesore. Better aim to do it before the slowly disintegrating Victorian pier finally collapses.
Multi-docker at Holy Loch
Today I drove to Sandbank to look at the great machines at the marina. Torrents of icy rain. The car studio revealed some drawbacks – windows constantly misting and windscreen wipers needed to see out. I hate putting the engine on if I’m not in motion, so my session was curtailed. I wondered about omitting things from pictures. Art’s made of a multitude of partial truths, I suppose.
Today was an absolutely foul day. So the sea looked brilliant. This from Innellan, looking north. Lately I’m thinking about straight lines, man-made form compared to natural form, and how the horizon is one of the few straight lines in nature. I think I preferred the picture with Lily’s wild scribbles in, but she slept peacefully while I drew today. So I worked on getting the purples right – always a bit tricky, while slowly coming to the realisation that the smell of cat pee that had been lingering was coming from my coat.
This year I’m working on a series of seascapes. The plan is to draw while my daughter naps – making the car a kind of mobile studio/creche. Today I drove along the coast until my one year old fell asleep, and then drew the view. Today: Toward Sailing Club (with input from Lily, cause the napping didn’t happen)