Friday, 24 May 2013

Forms in Darkness

Since my last post I have continued to go through a barren patch art-wise, but I have begun work on turning an old sketch into a painting. It's called "Derbyshire Grit", and depicts crows as they battle with the elements, against a backdrop of Derbyshire hills and stone walls. Generally crows are among the earliest birds to begin the nesting process. They lay their eggs in the tops of tall trees, yet to reach the cover of full leaf, whilst wintry weather still prevails. From birth they endure harsh conditions. I admire their hard as nails quality, persecuted and disliked by much of society, they still continue to thrive.

I have been learning to manage the care of my youngest after his unexpected first asthma attack and subsequent scary rush to hospital. An experience in the fragility and preciousness of our lives. Then, soon after we were burgled in the night whilst we slept. It is very disturbing to know that when you are in your most trusting, vulnerable state of sleep, a state that none of us can avoid, a predator is yards from your babies. I am just relieved that on one woke up and encountered them. I can't express how it then felt, after a night of disturbed sleep dreaming of wandering forms in darkness, to wake up to a phone call that my mother had been burgled just 24 hours later. She had been asleep downstairs whilst they ripped off a back window and roamed about looking for cash. It was part of a recent spate of burglaries in my neighborhood, a typical Market town.

All neighborhoods have burglaries and too many people have been through this upsetting experience, yet I had not expected it to happen to me and was blissfully unaware of the recent burglaries nearby. This had left us unprepared and an easy target. In response to the hopelessness of waiting and worrying to see who will be next, I have set up a Facebook page and blog, which links to a local Twitter account and Facebook group. The aim is to highlight the use of social media against crime. An online community can share alerts in real time, enabling all our eyes and ears to work as one for mutual benefit and acting as an effective deterrent. Please support this cause by spreading the message and creating your own local group.

Jack the Ripper's bedroom, Walter Sickert. 1907.
The Mantlepiece by Walter Sickert , 1907.

Whenever I sit down at my desk I have been thinking of Goldilocks, and now have sympathy for the three bears as I wonder if they sat in my chair as they rifled through my purse. As always there is a need to turn negative situations around. Humour, action and art can all help. A Twitter friend suggested to me that I may be able to use the experience as content for future paintings and I may do this. I have always been drawn to dark, moody paintings and the deep black ink of prints. Through watching a repeat of an art programme recently I rediscovered the paintings of Walter Sickert. I love how suggestions of objects are picked out through the murky light. It was somewhat unfortunate timing to learn that his paintings of sleeping nudes are actually dead women, possibly murdered, and there is a theory that Sickert was Jack the Ripper (shudder). Art and crime have also combined in the current drama series The Fall, in which the murderer keeps a sketchbook of drawings of his victims. Ominous but interesting examples of crime meeting art.

Self portrait, David Bomberg,1937.
Without doubt Caravaggio, known for his own links with crime was the master of dark and light. Manet went for black whilst the Impressionists strove for light. Some of my favourite artworks feature sumptuous combinations of strong black outlines filled with jewel like colours. I am reminded of paintings by El Greco, Gauguin, Matisse, Chagall and John Piper when I see stained glass. I have collected images of stained glass that inspires me on Pinterest

Hernan Bas
I hope to develop my use of glazes and pursue visually elusive states through paint such as deceptions, half-light, semi-consciousness and fading memories. I have found the transparent nature of Paynes Grey, makes it the most forgiving of oil paints and I can't wait to begin work with more black in my paintings. All is not as it seems.

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