I’ve finished the painting I mentioned in my last post and as some of you asked to see it, here it is. Seeing it next to ‘Winter Landscape’ I recognise that the only thing I have in common with the master is perhaps pink and yellow. But the feeling of finishing a painting is transcendent and I’m longing to get on with the next.
How does one know that a painting is finished? That is the BIG question. Is it when I’ve carried the colour over the sides of the canvas? Or is it when I’ve lived with the painting for a few days and can think of nothing I need to add? It’s easier to tell when a poem is finished (when I’ve removed everything I can without the whole thing collapsing). It’s hard to do that with a painting but I do know that one line too many and the effect is ruined.
I guess it is when I, the creator, say it’s finished. Then I sign my name, give it a coat of varnish and, if I’m selling it, have taken it to the framers. Nothing says ‘finished’ as clearly as a frame.
I know it’s a lot easier to bake a cake but a lot less satisfying.
I have entered a very interesting part of my soul’s journey. I have been given my diagnosis and have received it with a measure of serenity, helped by the fact that I have stayed in control of my treatment. Thank you very much traditional medicine for putting in a life- saving stent but no thank you, I don’t want any treatment that burns, cuts or poisons. I will quietly live out my days this way. It is after all not the length that matters but the width.
So what am I doing to make sure I live the full width of each day I am given pain free and full of vigour? I climb up to a studio where I rent creative space and I play with a paint brush and squiggly tubes of paint. I am totally untrained as an artist, except for the fact that I have been a passionate lover of modern art from a teenager. Every city I have visited in my long and adventurous life has revealed a painting or two, that I carry within as a nurturing interior landscape. My most memorable encounter with such a painting was the glimpse of Wassily Kandinsky’s Winter Landscape 1909(see above) which glimmered at me from a side room as I was being taken on a heavily supervised tour of The Hermitage in St Petersburg.
In a flash I knew that it was my once in a lifetime chance of standing in front of a work of art that had spoken to me from the pages of books since I was little more than a child.
I broke free from the group and sprinted down the corridor with the voice of the guard ringing in my ears. I was pretty well dragged back to the group with my eyes still glued to the pink and yellow alchemy of that glorious painting. I am glad to report that I was let off with a stern lecture.
Now in my own little corner of the world, with the sense of time concertina -ing around me, I am painting my homage to Kandinsky. Mine isn’t a church, it’s a cottage by the sea. But what I hope to capture is the childlike wonder at the gloriousness of the world and the imagination’s ability to see the upside down and inside out in that as yet trammelled view of what is real and what is fantasy that belong in the world of a child. The joy of colour and the capturing of the unlikely. They are the qualities I find in Klee and Kandinsky and they continue to give me pleasure. More so now that I am realising the true meaning of the finite nature of life.
It adds to my pleasure to know that I deliberately painted the first half of the picture upside down.I think I will call it ‘The Hermitage’.