4 March 2009


It’s been a slow, distracted morning – delicately faffing paint over an existing layer. Trying to achieve that luminosity and effervescence that is my goal.

“Be bold!” I tell myself.
“Don’t spoil what you have already laid down.” A nagging little voice whispers.

I have just taken a sip of Herbas de Menorca. It says it is chamomile, but has more of a mellow anis taste to it. It is 12:09pm.

I have eight brushes on the go, 2 palette knives and 4 colours (Emerald Green; Ivory Black; Titanium White; Permanent Geranium). The second canvas of the day is propped on the easel. It is time to be bold…

I can hear mice scuttling around in the insulation space overhead. I’ve begun correcting my spelling and grammar. Get back to work.

I’ve done something… Fuck knows if it’s the right thing. But it is something at least. Now would be a good time to take lunch and take stock.

There’s a wall at the side of the house with an almighty crack running through it. It looks like it might fall down any minute. I take a photo for reference and for prosperity.

Surveying this loft-cum-studio I can see that I have no less than 13 unfinished paintings (that is, ones where I have actually committed pigment to canvas). It is troubling to me that this scenario has arisen. I don’t think it’s necessarily a lack of will to finish, rather a lacking in confidence to boldly move forward with these things to bring them to a state of completion. 

I find I have no trouble starting things – not for me the blank-page (canvas) syndrome that holds so many creatives in their tracks. I’ve stepped into the breach 13 times on 13 canvases, and then got lost: Lost in the process; lead down a blind alley only to realise I don’t have the spunk to make my way out the other side.

I can pen bold statements on this here computer – they can all too easily be erased. But the bold painter seems to have deserted me.

Before lunch, I had a sickly urge to take a knife to this canvas. I took it outside, where I spent a lot of time staring daggers at it, a prodigious flow of tourettes-words gushing forth in the daylight. The birds evacuated the garden, the neighbours shut the windows, cute bunnies scuttled down their burrows…

I can see now that the something I did before may not have been quite right. But it was also not wrong.

I should probably werk on something else for a while. Load up the third canvas of the day –SPQR – and open the cobalt violet.

As I paint, I regain composure. Sucking on a Halls clears my head, and I know that this preoccupation with timidly inching forward is a ridiculous way to werk. I know that whatever wrong is done can be rectified later, in fact maybe there is no wrong, and everything is part of the process. I can tell myself that if I do something rash, like scrawling a giant schoolboy prick across months of hard werk, it can be painted over, buried under another few layers of paint. But the problem I have is that this would put me back another few weeks, going over the ground I have spent many hours toiling to create.

It’s a futile business if you look at it like that. So I’ll just get on with it.

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