Sunday, 5 August 2012

Looking for the Min Min lights

Min Min lights are an Australian phenomena. There are no substantial explanations for these spooky nocturnal lights and they are steeped in folk law. They cannot be found by looking for them as there is no set pattern to their occurrence. The beautifully mesmerising lights, appear out of the blue and beckon the watcher to follow into the unknown and possible danger.  The min min chaser has to just patiently sit and wait for their appearance. They may or may not come.

In the same way I approach a seemingly difficult problem, whether it is a sticking point in an artwork or personal.  I can search high and low for an answer, but the more my mind struggles for a solution the further away it gets. The answer is sit by the muddy stream of mind and wait for it to clear. We all 'think' too much about what we should or shouldn't do, or what others should or shouldn't do. Everyone has an opinion about how everyone else should live their lives, or we struggle with creative blockages. A Zen saying goes  ' We cannot see our reflection in running water, it is only in still water that we can see'.

So that is what I have done today....sat quietly in my studio, watching the little birds feeding, feeling the sun on my face, listening to the sea gulls noisily squabbling, preparing canvases, waiting for them to dry and when I stopped worrying about what to do next, it all just slotted into place. No chasing around looking for the scary lights, eventually they came to me and they were no longer scary.

I have a few small canvases that I want to use up. Generally speaking I prefer to work on much larger ones. I do feel though it's good to have a range of sizes. Some people may like my work but don't have the space to accommodate a 100cm X 70cm picture, others may not want to spend the money on a large artwork.

 The first task before painting, is to build up the layers. Pages torn from an old Madame Bovary peek through the layers into the finished hints of what lie below the surface, both literally and ephemerally.

 Layers of gesso next and then the first washes of paint.

I like working on these thin boards. The surface is hard compared to stretched canvas and the results are quite different. The problem is one of framing them or at least mounting them. But I have found a few old frames that had been pushed to one side that seem to fit exactly ! A coat of gesso, which will be painted, and they are ready to roll.

A blustery afternoon yesterday and a very wet walk along the prom.