Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Le Berceau d'Amour

On a visit to the N.G.V. (National Gallery of Victoria) I made this copy from an anonymous image of dancing. It was in an exhibition about life at the time of Jane Austen. It reminded me of this quote :-
'Many people relish their moments of aggression. This comes as no surprise in a culture where people rarely dance or sing aloud; where we have the chance to roar only if we are sports fans; where we almost never run or jump or leap or glide for the sheer joy of it, or throw ourselves onto sand or into a freezing lake, or ride impossibly high waves when we are no longer a young surfie; where we no longer sit together telling wild or tender stories; where we look at other people's paintings but don't hold paint in our own hands; where we buy food that has no earth left on it; where we wash the sweet smelling vermix off babies moments after they are born; where we may do a small part of a whole job, but rarely witness anything completed; where our sacred sense of ritual may be reduced to a plastic tree at Christmas time; where community may be only what we see on a small screen; where the whole world may be available to many of us but we complain that we have nothing to do or nowhere to go...'
- Stephanie Dowrick, 'The Universal Heart'

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Café Terrace, Mordialloc

We arrived in Mordialloc, the small fishing port 25 k. south of the City. Thinking I would start a large watercolour, I stretched up some Arches paper on a board. On this cold and beautiful day I was attracted to the view opposite me: people were sitting out on the café terrace above a row of moored fishing boats. Thinking that it would be a good 'warmup' exercise, I started drawing the complex scene in an A4 sketchpad. A few hours later my colleague returned and was ready to leave. I meanwhile had lost track of time and had become completely absorbed by the drawing. On the way, I had stopped to write the following:-  " The experience of seeing clearly while drawing, what I call 'drawing meditation', is of letting go; it is a surrendering to the moment-by-moment NOW of visual connection. It is letting the pen humbly trace the shapes and forms and relationships of what is being seen. It is a feeling of lightness and ease, of getting out of your own way. It is drawing with no ulterior motive or intention, other than that of being present." 
Afterwards, on the drive back, I was surprised to notice a warm, full feeling in my heart and chest. I felt happy; I felt happy to be alive.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Drawing the Eggplant

I SEE birth and death, youth and decay, in the leaves of this humble looking plant, whose extraordinary purple-black fruit is so delicious to eat. Some leaves are bright green, smooth and immaculately shaped; some are clearly older, withered at the edges and torn by their time out in the world, torn by the winds and rain of existence.
So it is with us: youth and age. And are we not, by obsessively fixating on the beauties of youth, attempting to deny the inexorable laws of Nature?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thought for today

"He who works with his hands is a labourer. 
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist"
- St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Redeemed by drawing, again.

My current circumstances: grieving the sudden death of my sister Peta, five years younger than me, I have also recently torn a cartilage in my right knee; am ill with a persistent cold and my partner Nicki is absent in the Western Desert. Am currently struggling to make a portrait of Peta, not wanting it to be a photographic cliché but wanting, nevertheless, to make it feel like her. 

Yesterday all of this overwhelmed me. I began to feel intensely pessimistic about the validity of producing paintings and drawings in a world on the brink, quite probably, of environmental catastrophe.

This morning I had an early appointment in Carlton. Afterwards I took coffee at the University Café in Lygon Street. I began to draw the scene in front of me: people sitting in the café terrace, socialising and drinking coffee. Quite soon I am beginning to engage, getting glimpses of their separate Realities. I begin to feel healed by this sense of contact with Life. And, once again, I realize: the proper subject, for me, of Art in out time is: everyday reality. The challenge is to be able to draw or paint even a fragment, freshly experienced, of the awesome and incomprehensible Mystery we call "everyday life".