Abstract Landscape Painter. Rural Dweller. Lover of Modernist Art and Design.
“Plus ça change”… and all that
The first day of Spring, meterologically speaking, and I’ve been outside filming the light moving across the landscape. It’s been windy and bright this morning and the clouds have been blown speedily over the sun, changing the variations in tone and colour rapidly and repeatedly. The gulls returned this afternoon - flying into the wind, hanging almost static at times, like white smudges above the umber earth, then suddenly turning and letting the full force of the air currents whisk them away, only to return and begin again.
I’m glad that Spring is here and that there will be increasing levels of daylight in which to work. The dark, short days of Winter reduce the decent painting hours. Nevertheless, I have completed work for the first show of the year and made strong in-roads into the second set.
My work is changing too. It has always had a life of it’s own and just when I think that it is settled it moves into another transition phase. Currently it is becoming looser and more gestural. All detail is gone for me now. Age has exchanged it for energy. I suppose that I’m trying more and more to capture what a moment in time felt like. I am thinking about all the senses, not just the visual. The temperature of the air, the wind on my skin, the sounds around me, etc. I find that I need to put away sketches and move photographs to the periphery of my vision. I close my eyes and recall the memory of being there. I open them and begin with almost anything - a colour that says something about the quality of the light or a shape that has lodged in my brain. I try to work quickly and instinctively not over-thinking the marks, letting my arm make almost sub-conscious movements. Then I will step back and see what has been revealed. I keep doing this until I spot a key element around which I will develop the composition. Then the colours cut in and I start balancing one against another until a piece that hangs together as a whole is created. I put in and I take out, and sometimes the taking-out turns out to be a putting-in. Marks made seemingly by chance can sometimes become key elements and the best features of a painting because they are the least self-conscious. It’s the spontaneity that usually yields the most accurate result. Over-working and trying too hard can squeeze the life out a piece….but that is easier said than done!
I have often wondered why my work changes as it does. It’s a bit like Dr.Who metamorphosing into different versions of himself. I suppose it is simply because I am changing and will continue to do so. The older I get, the faster I want to work. This means that I have to break my day into smaller sections. The hours spent standing at the easel have been replaced by shorter periods of 2 - 2.5 hours. These are interspersed with lunch, a walk or tasks of a contrasting nature, in order to refresh body and brain. Then it is back to the easel with a fresh eye to begin again.
In an interview broadcast on Radio 4, David Hockney quoted a Chinese saying - “painting is an old man’s game”. I have heard it said too that a painter does not hit their stride until they are 60. Not that much time left for me, but still time to improve. Keep on working, keep on changing.
All text & images ©2015 Carol Saunderson