Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.


It's a bright, breezy morning.  The sun is just coming up, but we rose in darkness this morning.  The chimney is being swept this week and the first delivery of logs is due on Friday.  And so it comes around again - the year in full circle.  The robin is singing his winter song in order to defend his territory, and the pheasants will soon start wandering back into the garden to join the small birds under the bird feeder. I'll chop the kindling and light the fire and the winter routine will be resumed.  I like the rhythm of it all; the patterns I see in nature.  It's very comforting to go around this dance where the steps are known.  So many things in life seem uncertain, but as I watch the seasons change and the animals and birds repeat their familiar patterns of behaviour, it provides an unchanging and unending structure to the unknown pattern that I find woven on top.  When I paint I like preparing the ground.  Unlike the piece of work that I am about to create, I know exactly what is going to happen.  I know how many layers of gesso I am going to put onto the board or canvas, how I will sand it down and rub it with a cloth to get the surface that I require.  I know how I will under-paint and which brushes I will use for the process.  I know the basic elements of composition that I like and the small selection of tubes from which I will form all my colours.  I have a basic language and a basic style, but after that all is an unknown adventure.  Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn't, but I must stick with it until I bring it to completion.  

I like to use circles in my paintings.  I like the process of creating them.  It's a challenge; I can't be half-hearted.  I have to be brave, make up my mind, and make the whole movement in one, confident, fluid sweep - painting "from the shoulder", as we were always told in college. I like the feeling of that movement as well as the smooth, unending symbol that it produces.  It can make a lot of difference to a composition.

It's now six months since Rosie died and I miss her every day.  I miss having a dog full-stop.  I thought about her last week-end as I stood on the windswept shingle bank above Salthouse beach, and how she loved our days on the coast.  I feel that it's time now to start to look for another little companion.  Looking back inland from the bank, it was all so beautiful that I could have cried.  I remembered a painting of the North Norfolk coast by John Nash.  It looks hardly any different from 1932 when he made that study. It was so rolling and verdant.  So many lush and beautiful greens.  Distant wooded hills with villages and churches, the line of the sea and the wonderful, wonderful open space. I like to stand up there in the bright light with the wind blowing so forcefully.  I like the power and the freshness and the freedom.

I received a bit of good news earlier in the week.  I was on my way to visit my Mum when a message pinged up on my phone.  It turns out that the publishing company that I began working with last autumn have just started supplying greetings cards to the TATE Gallery shops.  The image with which I started this blog in January, entitled "Early Morning by the Coast" (but published as "Early Morning Glow"), has been selected to be sold in the TATE Britain shop.  TATE Britain, or the old TATE Gallery as it was then, was the first art gallery that I ever visited.  I was a young teenager on a school trip.  I thought that it was amazing - so much art in one place, so many different styles and so many artists voices speaking through history - it was sensory overload!  Now one of my little paintings will be in the building, among the hundreds of other cards and prints, the myriad of other artists chosen and represented.  Yet nevertheless, a little bit of me will sit on the geographical spot where art first came alive to me.  I feel honoured that this small fragment will be amidst so much that I admire.

When I arrived to see Mum I wanted to tell her the good news.  I knew that her dementia would mean that she wouldn't really understand, but I just wanted to share my little achievement with her.  Sure enough, as I tried to explain, she stared at me with large round eyes and then knitted her brows to comprehend the words.  Then, after a couple of seconds pause, she seamlessly asked me, "What's the weather like today?  Is it raining?".  But at least we sat there together, amidst the bustle of the care home lounge, sharing a positive moment in time together.

Speaking of time…..Mum now travels through time and space faster than a timelord!  It takes some keeping up with during the course of one "conversation" to work out where we are and who is who, as days of the week and even decades flick backwards and forwards in seconds. And quite where she thinks she is, I have no idea most of the time. At least, she told me, my Dad (who died 12 years ago) was at home looking after Rosie!  I rather liked that idea.

All text and images ©2013 Carol Saunderson