Thursday, 18 November 2004

A Good Egg of a Day

The People Show will be looking for entries in the New Year, so I decided to press on today. Instead of fannying around with some of the small pieces which glare at me in the studio from time to time, I made a decision to do two new paintings for the Show.

Despite the handicap of an obviously off-square canvas, I managed to get something involving the rigid grid-like structure of the Tyne Bridge off to a good start. The top two thirds of the 24 x 24 ins square canvas is taken up with the mass of the end of the Bridge, reminding me a little of Franz Kline. Behind are the cool planes of what I used to think of as the Black Stump until it was clad in some greyish stuff last year, and the pier of one of the Bridge supports.

The bottom third of the painting consists of runners in the Great North Run. A return to an old friend.

I like the way the composition divides into a calm cool grid played off against the energy of runners in reds, ochres, yellows.

Later, I went into town for an hour or two. Picked up some olives and sour cream and spoached around the HMV store.

Back home, I whipped up some chicken with wild mushrooms. Too much chicken, not enough olives. Too much cream. Too rich. Would have been fine for two, but Patsy123's away looking after her mum who's had a fall.

After dinner I made a first acquaintance with Philip Glass's Symphony No.2 and Symphony No.3 which I'd picked up at HMV. Great stuff. I've never thought of Philip Glass as being impressionistic, but there were moments there when I found myself thinking restless sea pictures (indeed, Rebecca came to mind) and steam locomotives.

And then it was time to delve further into Chuck Palahniuk's Diary. A very strange and disturbing novel, and certainly engrossing. And hey! It's about an artist.

When they were in school, Peter used to say that everything you do is a self-portrait. It might look like Saint George and
the Dragon or The Rape of the Sabine Women, but the angle you use, the lighting, the composition, the technique, they're all you. Even the reason why you chose the scene, it's you. You are every color and brushstroke.

Peter used to say, "The only thing an artist can do is describe his own face."

You're doomed to being you.

This, he says, leaves us free to draw anything, since we're only drawing ourselves.

Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It's all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand.

Everything is a self-portrait.

It's been an unusual day when I haven't felt any real pressure. When everything - even the not terribly successful chicken and wild mushrooms - felt right. Not often I can say that.

And so, on that rather comforting note, to bed.

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