Friday, 28 October 2011

A Lonesome Place

A Lonesome Place, oil on wood 24.5cm x 30cm

    The weather smiled on me and finally gave up a bit of light for taking photographs, and so now I can smile a funny sort of smile at you by finally sharing a new painting.  I should probably mention that what you see in the images below is a lot bigger than reality (which is why specks of dust look enormous!).  And the colours are, as usual, not quite right either, though they're the best I could manage in my little setup.

   This painting began when we lived in Paris.  We only had use of a bathtub, not a shower, which meant that washing long hair was a bit tiresome, and it was impossible to successfully be in a hurry about getting ready to go out.  It also meant that sometimes ideas might swim past while one was lying flat in the tub mulling things over, looking up through the water, and listening to the pianist upstairs practising (the sounds were louder underwater).  Just over a year ago, in the summer before we moved to Scotland, I fished this idea out of the water.  When we moved, I carried its physical beginnings in my hand-luggage, but at that time it was only an underpainting, a little further along than it is in this photo:

And then thin layers of paint, with thick layers of time in between them, were piled one on top of the other.  Paint dries so much more slowly where we live now, especially as winter comes on.  

As I settled in to work on the painting, I fell into a world that had its own laws of matter.

For my paintbrush it was a tangled maze through transparent and solid forms.

As I wound my way through it I slipped in little details like feathered hair, and clothes that might have been a bed sheet stolen from a washing line, or woven out of a night sky.  I tried to work in clues quietly.

I wanted to build an outdoor place, with an architecture of leaves torn from old manuscripts and trees that grew in stained-glass window arches.

In this crowded thicket of a painting, I hoped your eyes might dance a bit.

And now, all of my smallest paint brushes are down to their last one or two bent hairs. 

A good sort of problem to have, I suppose.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Some time after the sun was extinguished...

 A little while ago, earlier this morning, we woke up, my husband not quite yet late for work (and me with a day off).  The covers seemed heavier than usual, in fact, there was a real pressure weighing on the bed.  But it was only some cloud that had slipped in around the window's edge, not to worry; it was easily brushed off onto the floor. 

   And then, as early as that, the first mistake of the day was made: the heavy curtains were drawn back from the window, and contrary to custom, the room was not illuminated.  No, rather, every last drop of light that had made up the gloom of the curtained room was sucked out, into the dark, dark day.  I guess that light is out there now rioting around somewhere, giving even more strength to the wind that is galloping about and grinding down the houses. 

    In Canada, snow may creep up around your windows, it may even cover your house, trapping you inside, but there is a limit to snow.  Cloud, on the other hand, is a substance that may go on farther than the imagination can stretch. 

   The rain is hissing on the window panes, and I guess I am alone now.  Even if my husband is not carried away to Norway or further by this wind, he has very little chance of being able to fight his way back to me through all of this cloud, I should think.  I would light the windows with candles, or make a big glowing, warm hearth fire to guide him back to me, but we've burned all our wood, all our candles.  I think the best course of action is to hide myself away in a heap of blankets and hot water bottles.  It's true that I will most likely meet my end smothered by my own accumulated clouds of breath, which help all this cloud to grow at a terrible rate, but I will scrawl out some  pictographs in case my resting place is uncovered one day.

  But for this long stretch of grey days, I would have posted a painting here, which I finished some time ago.  Instead I'll leave you with a page from a little sketchbook of remembered dreams I've been working on for the Sketchbook Project, which I was lucky and won entry into over on the Pikaland blog.

   May God preserve you from unending cloud.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pacing October

   And then I became filled with anxiety, wordless troubles, and restlessness.  Worries and aimlessness whirled around me like dead old leaves.  Boxes sat unpacked, plans were left unmade, and an aura of indistinctness hovered about these dusty rooms.  There was a swelling grief of unnamed things.

The only thing left to do was to retreat to the park and the woods on the outskirts of town. 

Eating apples on a park bench, drinking hot tea from a flask.  Walking until the night falls, heavy and inky.

At this time of year, early in the mornings and evenings the light is not yet lit in the hallway and staircase of our tenement.  It is necessary to enter the yawning building and feel along the wall in the pitch dark, stumble over to the first tattered step and then begin climbing up the flights of stairs, hoping the neighbour is home so that at the landing, by the doorstep, some light will shine down from the window above their door to make it easier to find the right key.

We are still possibly moving countries again in a few weeks time, though nothing is close to sure enough for us to have started preparing at all.  I paint a little and then worry that there is not enough time for the paint to dry before it will have to be packed up and sent away to wherever it is that we are going.

At least there are the woods and waves and howling winds.