Thursday, April 12, 2012

happiness is a special excitement

Before I start painting I have a slightly ambiguous feeling : happiness is a special excitement because unhappiness is always possible a moment later.

~ Francis Bacon

 You could say that I have no inspiration, that I only need to paint.

~ Francis Bacon

All colours will agree in the dark.

~ Francis Bacon

Last week I finished writing a piece on Francis Bacon's studio for my collection of poem-essays about art and ekphrasis.  I'd been working on it off and on for a month and during that time, my house seemed so much cleaner.  (If you're unfamiliar with his studio and its relocation, check this out).  R's studio is a mess, for sure, but there's an order to it, too. It's impossible right now to take any photos down there - the light is odd most times of the day.  He supplements the sparse natural daylight with a combination of lights which he focuses on his easel.  But when I take a photo down there everything looks weird and orange.  So.  What I did today was gather up a few of his palette knives and a scraper and put them on a table near the window. He warned me that they weren't all  necessarily dry, but I didn't believe him. I poked at them, they seemed dry.  But ended up getting bits of paint on my white cloth all the same.

I like the line by Bacon about inspiration because there is that point in your creative life, where the need to be inspired is replaced by the need to work, to get down to the task.

When R. starts a new painting, he begins by drawing.  Lately he's been painting flowers, a sort of return to a larger format, which I think must feel quite liberating.  But then comes the moment where he scrapes his glass palette, removing all the colour residue from his previous painting.  I can usually hear this activity if I'm home, sitting in my study, here at the computer. It's the sound of a new beginning, this resounding dull, groaning, clawing, scraping, gnawing - but I know for him there is trepidation, anxiety.  However long he's spent drawing, there's that intense interval of not knowing whether something will work or not, those initial few hours, usually, or up to a few days with a larger piece, of applying paint to canvas.

I like the way these implements look, the way they hold the movements and mixing of previous work.  They're already muddied with colour and are at the ready to get on with things.  There is nothing about them that speaks to doubt.

They speak to the need to create, to work.  To work.

1 comment:

  1. "Nothing about them that speaks to doubt" -- perfect! these tools that need only channel the master's vision. Your Calm Things is so exquisite, channels peace and hope in the face of doubt, to all of us. Thank you!


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