I have gone through a bit of a crisis in confidence during the creation of this painting. I think it comes of having to contend with too many interruptions. I think it is also to do with a shift in how I am relating to my work. I have a feeling that this painting is not for me, but for someone else. Perhaps just by writing here about the problem I have with selling my work, I have somehow broken the spell. I have been questioning why I am painting, and realizing that I have to be more proactive if I really want to make a living by it somehow. I think I am going to start making two sorts of paintings, ones for me, and ones for other people. These paintings are likely not going to be just of flowers, but of people and animals too.
The beautiful brushes did arrive the next day I ordered them, as if delivered by fairies, which was wonderful, but then it was so hot the blooms closed up all day. When they opened in the evening I realized they had changed so much that I was going to have to resort to painting from a photograph. It's something I find very unsatisfactory. My eye is no longer responding directly to the light shining on the subject, but is deciphering the pixels on a flat image. There is not the immediacy of time and place; instead I have to step through a kind of mirror on paper. It is like painting from a ghost of a living thing. If I'm not careful my obsession for detail takes over, and spontaneity is lost.
It is a very light, bright image. It just didn't look right when I obeyed reality and darkened the centres of the flowers. The singing stopped, but when I wiped out the colour and just squiggled tiny bits of blue and green in the singing started again. It really does seem to me that all the flowers are singing from the centre of themselves, and they are singing out the colours and textures of the background.
The best piece of advice anyone has given me about painting was 'paint what you see'. I was 12 and the advice was from a graphic designer friend of my Mum. I paint exactly what I see with my eyes, and in the process paint what the superconscious and subconscious aspects of my mind perceive at the same time. So I have painted nicotiana, but I have also painted lots of souls singing with one voice together, like stars twinkling in the cosmos.
This is a long haul trip of a painting. I have had many interruptions in its creation this week, due to some things to resolve in my non-painting life. It was interesting to see how this affected my ability to paint. Marks did not manifest easily, as I was not focused.
Today I respected myself and asserted boundaries, and now everything is on the right track again.
It is turning out to be a very light hearted painting. In fact, I can feel it lifting my heart as I paint it. The nicotiana blooms remind me of little stars shining out their light in a green sky. Today I remembered how I used to float flower shaped candles this colour in a green glass bowl, and the painting is affecting me in the same way. I can almost hear Astrud Gilberto singing 'stay' as I paint it. I was very into Astrud during the floating candles phase. So I have listened to the flowers, and have chosen to stay in their world; not in the other one that was unsettling me this week.
In this painting the flowers are sitting on top of the textured background. The background dried before I could merge the blooms into it, but this is an interesting effect. The texture is showing through the blooms in some places. I was considering doing impasto flowers to subdue it, but the texture creates a
kind of frisson or resonance to me. It reminds me of how sound creates patterns in fine sand, and suggests to me a sound emanating from the background right through the flowers, as if they are singing it. It reminds me of a dream I had recently when I sang one note, and then I heard a whole choir of voices singing the same note with me. We were all singing together; it was not as if I was the leader or anything. It was a very beautiful experience, and reminded me of Barry Manilow's song 'one voice'. He wrote one voice inspired by a dream. Maybe it was similar to mine.
Anyway, these flowers with the texture shining through them remind me of all those voices singing with me.
The painting has quite a way to go until it is finished. Progress has been slow, and nicotiana change so quickly. I was reminded of how quickly Van Gogh worked today, and wished I could do the same. However, he wrote in one of his letters how he wished he could paint delicately, so I suppose it's either slow and delicate or quick and rough. Maybe I just need to drink some absinthe.
I'm not quite sure about the saying 'a bad workman blames his tools'. I have been severely hampered today by a lack of appropriate brushes. I was using three brushes with many different colours, so I had to be very careful to avoid greys. It was another thing that slowed progress. It got so unbearable that I had a break and ordered some excellent brushes that I know are going to be perfect for the job and will last for years.