Friday, March 14, 2008
My Painting cont'd XVII
Having now found the off switch to the spooky illusion of colour stratified in space (though still indulging in the occasional vivid trance of depth) I return to other anxieties, especially to do with how the painting itself has taken over in a different way.
Just as the novelist reaches a certain point where his characters, empowered by a sudden and mysterious accession of free will, begin to act and speak for themselves and to contradict their creator’s intentions, so the artist is surprised when the shapes and colours and configurations of elements in his painting start to clamour for a similar autonomy. They argue with the painter and amongst themselves. The artist who started as captain becomes an umpire as well.
The last thing I do every night is look in the studio to inspect the day’s work, and think about the general state of play. Also, unbreakfasted and teeth as yet unbrushed, it is the first thing I do each morning. I like to see whether, say, yesterday’s radical gesture has been absorbed by the image as a whole. It is a constant of infanthood to imagine one's toys and dolls having a communal life of talk and action when their owner sleeps. So with that same infant optimism I look to see if any problems have been resolved while my eyes were shut.
This can also prove be the Frankenstein moment when a picture that one left in apparent calm seems to have had a bad night and groans its dissatisfaction at recent changes.
As I move eastward across the surface I realise that new manoeuvres affect the mood of previous work and at the moment all is distinctly unquiet on the Western Front. Certain marks are pressing for revision, for a second chance. While one begs for fusion with a neighbouring element another is suing for divorce from its present partnering.
Making such sorties backwards in the picture to dress a wound or reset a bone has its own peculiarity. I find that although the language of the picture is consistent, the past has a slightly different dialect. This was especially true when remaking the initial panel in the image’s far North West territory. In terms of colour alone, I found in that region that I did not have (almost a year ago) on my palette the prussian side of the blue scale but was rooting cool areas in ultramarine alone. Thus I had the choice of readopting the old colour dialect or infiltrating (as if on a modest time machine) news from the future. I chose the latter course.
But at least I am still in charge. However, I know from experience that a moment will come (months away as yet) when the work banishes its creator. In the end it is the painting that declares itself finished.
The artist does not necessarily know when the mark he has just made is the last. He will enter the studio one morning and find, almost with brush poised, that the picture is as out of bounds as a taped-off crime scene.
It must then be accepted WAF as the book dealers’ catalogues say, with all faults. If the artist wants to improve things his only option is to do so with another painting.