I am stuck in a hotel in Jakarta, no paint nor easel and I also forgot my sketchbook at home. So I trolled around for photos on my laptop and found this watercolour:
This is the sister painting of my first attempt at oil painting in many years, which I first wrote about in this post. The accompanying oil painting and source photo is below. You can see I struggled more to get that great red in the oil painting right, and did not succeed very well, to be honest.
My approach to watercolours is to paint in many layers, which allows me to control the depth and colour. With oil, I need to be more courageous, and in my first painting below, I did not do what the teachers said I should: “put it down and leave it alone!”. I also think in both paintings my drawing is not right – some angles are a bit out. Much to learn, but that yellow afternoon paint, thick on the warm wall – it is just given, something to behold.
The source photo:
It has been a rather trying day. A black day in some ways, as Tomas Transtromer would say in the words of Robert Bly. I never cease to be amazed at the power of poetry and art to comfort one and make the dark something of value – a fruitful dark. Take a look at this beautiful comparison by Rebecca Snow of two translations of one of Tomas Transtromer’s poems – one that applies particularly to dark days.
I remember vividly being on guard duty, alone, now about 27 years ago. In the pitch black of night, bored and with a hopeful longing. Pacing up and down in a guard bunker, a T.S Eliot poem I had to memorize in high school carried me through the night:
You tossed a blanket from the bed,You lay upon your back, and waited;You dozed, and watched the night revealingThe thousand sordid imagesOf which your soul was constituted;They flickered against the ceiling.And when all the world came backAnd the light crept up between the shuttersAnd you heard the sparrows in the gutters,You had such a vision of the streetAs the street hardly understands;