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.


  1. I love this, Oh ! how I love this. Inspired art always has its own laws of matter, where creatures souls and worlds can roam freely through one another. I love the leg of the bird dancing its own graceful path into the arm of the woman, colouring his chest and her side red. And many other things, all these deep human souls and lovely medieval creatures.

  2. This is absolutely beautiful!! I wish I could see it in real life, it looks like a painting to get lost in. And your description of layers of paint and time is wonderful.

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

    Oh yes and my eyes are still dancing in and around and soaking up all the wonderful connections between the birds and the figures ... what does that bird see in those open hands I wonder.

  4. This painting is just stunning. I love how it glows! I also enjoyed reading the different parts about the technique and the meaning. Keep up the amazing work!

  5. Thanks so much for your lovely comments, folks! They really do make my day!

  6. I've enjoyed exploring this piece of work in detail, and I see from it that you and I share a love of the early gothic. I particularly like the second to last photograph, with the dark ground and foliage making a beautiful negative space around the bird. But the whole painting has been most tenderly done, and I find myself most intrigued. I shall be back.

  7. I'm so glad you like it! It was a really fun painting to work on... and I loved getting lost in all the tiny leaves of the plants. A big welcome to you, and I hope that you had a good result from you all-night painting efforts!

  8. Wow. This is literally breath-taking, which is kind of spooky! Honestly, I look at this painting and forget to breath for a bit - I think that happens when you want to stop time and get lost in something. Thank you for posting.