#O106: Unremembered Gate

Oil on paper, A4 size. This is an invented landscape, started again with a wash of Raw Sienna into which I gradually placed shapes, letting the image unfold as I go. It was painted with a rather limited palette, so it has good unity although I would have liked a more spacious feeling to come through.o106


I am taking a break from work and life, spending a few days on my own (arranged by my wife who knows me so well). Lots of time to rest and reflect, I am skirting with the thought of what pulls me toward painting, or any sort of creativity at all. I am playing with the idea of letting a painting dictate its own direction…putting off sense and notion, as T.S Eliot gestured in Little Gidding:

...
If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
...
(text copied from this site)

Little Gidding came to my mind because of the phrase “you have to put off sense and notion”. Perhaps that is what is needed in my painting? But then my love of poetry takes over: I cannot quote anything from Little Gidding without including these stanza, some of my most liked ones in English literature:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot- 1955
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
...
(text and photo copied from this site)

Thanks for visiting my blog!

18 thoughts on “#O106: Unremembered Gate

    1. Thanks Nadia – yes, I know that feeling when you look at art or literature and think “why bother – it is all there already”! Yet, we keep on trying. Funnily, it was TS Eliot – again – who said “we are only undefeated because we have gone on trying”

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    1. Thanks Margaret! I cannot say I am onto something, but I do feel like I am at the end of some road with regards to painting pretty pictures and doing things I do not like to do. I am only moving forward on faith – making crazy watercolors in the belief that something that is uniquely me will emerge over time. Not too anxious about it all though! Thanks for your kindness and concern Margaret.

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  1. ” I am playing with the idea of letting a painting dictate its own direction…” This describes the way that I try to relate to perception. I am always striving to be more connected to the motif, to discover things about it, even in random ways. I want something that is opposite of technique (as usually understood) — instead to have a direct line of thought between what I’m seeing and what gesture I make on the painting or drawing. What if the most notable thing in a certain motif is, say, the reflection on a vase? The usual advice (and I’m not knocking it) is to start with the big shapes first and go toward details — for this approach is a way of organizing the picture to get at a kind of realism or even just the awareness of the whole. And I have worked on my drawing chops for years to learn about proportion and the big sense of the image, and so on. But sometimes now I go the opposite direction — I let my mind work with the first thing that really pulls me, no matter what it is or how illogical a process it might invoke. Because one interesting idea is not something that just sits in isolation — it leads to other ideas, places and feelings.

    The odd detail will help you notice some other feature that maybe you hadn’t seen. I am not fastened to one picture even — though certain pictures become ones where the aim is completeness. Those I will wrestle with over whatever time span is necessary. But other works are passages of travel through various ideas. They don’t have to be finished. They can proceed willy nilly.

    Of course none other than Corot said to continually attempt to get back to the first impression — that first sense of “ah!” — and you might not even know what provoked THAT feeling. It is somehow mixed in with everything all at once. And it’s hidden inside lots of separate items. It stands behind the details like a gravitational force.

    But horses for courses. I don’t have to do the motif the same way every time. I can go totally illogical with it. I can fasten down a detail if it suits me, why not? And I can leave details hanging suspended in chaos for the sake of experiencing a passage of thoughts. The things learned will accumulate. They’ll go somewhere more connected in time.

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    1. Great comment Aletha, and many thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts down so clearly. I think what you are saying resonates a lot with me and reflects what some of the artists interviewed on the Painting Perceptions also say about their creative process. I specifically mention that site because it deals mainly with representational painters, as opposed to abstract art. I think your love of drawing suggests you are very much interested in the object and how it appears to you, the thing and the stupendous fact that it exists in this mysterious universe. A very worthy cause, I think!

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