First week of January I started painting up a storm without much forethought. Then I hit one of my normal walls, realising that I am enjoying the activity of painting but I really have no idea what I am trying to achieve. And because of that I went right back to the drawing board.
I have quite a large collection of doodles and small drawings of ideas that I, for some reason or another, did not take further. There are straight doodles, sketches for children’s book illustrations, designs for website graphics, a couple of cartoons, poster ideas and my initial drawings when I was still attempting to do a masters degree focussed on narrative painting.
It seems like a bunch of very diverse things done for different purposes. But if you put them all out, as I have done last week, there is a clear consistency in my style and approach. Recurring themes and devices and ways of approaching pictures that I suspect crept in because I was intent on getting something else right rather than just developing a personal visual language.
I have started developing these ideas further in a sketchbook to flesh out things better for the paintings I intend to do. That will be an ongoing process and an essential one before my paintings will really get of the ground.
But in starting that I also realised that my theme title for the year was not right and I fixed that with something that more clearly describe what my concerns are and what I really want to achieve when I make a painting. I am now clear.
Two other experiences last week, both involving trees, also gave me a thematic focus and an impetus for my paintings. The first was at The Valley of the Waves at Sun City. We were there last week and I was struck by the visual incongruence of the very alive but grey tree trunks poking out of the very green artificial grass. Once I finish my first painting you will see where this finds visual form.
The second thing was when our landlord and a helper came to trim a tree on our boundary that was overhanging the house and dropping leaves into the gutters. What should have been a restrained trim ended up in a mangling of a quite beautiful tree, no matter how badly placed. This event and its resulting impact on me is a second visual and conceptual theme that I will work on this year.
School started today which means I will have less time to think and noodle about for long periods of time. But that also means that my days and weeks are now structured again and within this kind of structure I can plan for and work with pockets of time and all things being equal get more done.
My focus for the coming week then is on orienting my students and preparing my teaching and lessons. But in the back of my mind I work with the question, is what I am teaching also evident in my own work? My preparation for my teaching influences my own work heavily, and vice versa.
But more on that later. Tonight is a school night.