Wednesday, 19 December 2012

so what is all this anyway?

A conversation yesterday stimulated some words about what on earth I think I'm trying to do here...


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

new structure

Always looking for a better work structure, this month I've started an arbitrary container of making, or at least working on, three pieces a day. It's working surprisingly well. I'm doing much looser, more experimental work than before....


Saturday, 1 December 2012

new work

I'm getting a little behind here, but most of my current work is going onto the Natural Forms page...


Thursday, 8 November 2012

facebook link

I've just made a page on facebook where I'll be posting some work in progress from now on. The Flickr site remains the more or less full narrative of work in progress...


Saturday, 3 November 2012


I've been thinking about a quote that was given to me on my recent Authentic Artist workshop (with Kath Burlinson), from my teacher Paul Oertel:

Never belabour yourself with creativity.
Follow the juice.
Outsmart yourself by following the fun.
Look for the stream that is open.

I've been waiting for ages for the Indian gods/land project to get moving again, but the truth of it is that it isn't. Yesterday, getting back to work after various social interruptions, I decided to get it started, and worked in my practice on a drawing from an image that I love:

But it just didn't work out. I love these Chidambaram images, and the dance thing is central to my practice and my daily orientation.

But I seem to be forcing it now. These images came, after the Discipline of Freedom workshop in May. But they haven't taken off in the way I was hoping for.

I saw at the end of my last period of working with the mythology  (that beautiful text about the golden egg)

that it had become too intellectual, too theoretical - that what I needed to do was just to work with the words and the images and see what happened when I put them together (instead of trying to work it out in some way...). Perhaps I'll come back to it more naturally at some point in the future.

Perhaps it's medium. I hadn't thought medium could be so powerful. The original dance work was a free kind of painting, but what I did yesterday was heavy, dark charcoal. One part of me was excited by the deep, dark possibilities that seemed to be emerging; all that stuff at the back of my mind and emotions about time, the decay of stone, the life of past sculptors - long dead- coming through time in the form of these weathered, dancing forms. But something about that also started to oppress me. Is it that it's too much about ideas rather than paint/line responses? Or is it that, if I was doing as Paul and Kath suggested - following the fun, looking for the stream that is open - I wouldn't be working with this heavy material right now, however interesting it seems to be to my mind.

If I follow the fun, work with the stream that opens so naturally, I produce work like this:

This is where the stream takes me...


Tuesday, 9 October 2012


To  natural forms...


slow working

I'm not getting much opportunity to work on this project at the moment. I'm developing viola, voice, and piano as well as continuing with the organic forms strand of the painting. Recently I've had this wonderful opportunity to work on the Ecstasis project, which meant a focus on music for the last couple of weeks.

The Indian gods are never far away, but they  need some time and attention.


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

the cosmic egg is gold

Today I realised that I've been going about this in the wrong way. Trying to get the different ideas to come together into something meaningful or concrete.... I had to stop, because they weren't coming. It was too difficult.  I see now that I was being too conceptual, acting as if I had to write a paper or give a talk. But it isn't a paper, it's images and ideas and texts and textures. They don't have to come together intellectually or conceptually. Trying to make them do so has been blocking me up.

At the moment I'm working with just trying to bring things together, so that they can make their own connections. Or not.

These are Vedic creation hymns, circa 1000 BC.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

ecstasis project

I'm feeling very privileged to part of the Ecstasis project at the Macrobert Arts Centre here in Stirling. I just had a wonderful two days working with Mark Storor and Shona Reppe and a group of amazing artists.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

working away...

Doing a teabag thing, as you do.... and suddenly seeing that the colours of stained printer paper, ink and tea bag had an echo with something else....

And now here's a question. Do I want light-hearted comments on process like this on this blog? I'm aware that this site is supposed to be a different kind of thing to Exploring Creativity, where I talk about the experience of trying to create things. Here, I'm focussed on the painting itself, what it is, how it comes out, what I think about it, what I'm trying to do. From that point of view, why would this be an inappropriate post?

I've got a sense of the other two sites (the second one being on Flickr, which is a stream of everything that comes out, no selection, very little comment), but I haven't yet got a proper sense of shape for this one. The original intention was for it to be a place for selected paintings. That's all working fine, on the pages attached to the blog. It's the blog part of it that I still have to work out. But I like it. I somehow makes the site alive, more than just a little show of work...


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

natural forms

At the moment the natural forms work seems to be moving of its own accord.... I'm putting selected images on the tab above as I'm working.

It dawned on me yesterday that the collages I used to make with Picasa linked to the repetition and novelty idea. The question now is how, or in what way, can repetition and novelty be manufactured in an interesting and convincing way....


Saturday, 1 September 2012

reconceptualising the land

I'm currently reading Diana Eck's latest book, India: A Sacred Geography. Eck is best known for having previously written a book about Indian images called Darshan. Darshan is a unique Indian religious concept which refers to, amongst other related things, the moment that the worshipper looks up at the image situated at the dark centre of the temple (often after a lengthy circumambulation that has taken them into increasingly smaller and darker physical space) and meets the eyes of God. When you think about the fact that the image is believed by a large majority not to be a 'symbol' of God (as in, the one God of the universe), but an actual manifestation of God who has descended into its material form, this is an unbelievably potent idea.

This time, however, Eck is looking at the idea of India as a sacred whole. The word 'sacred' is deeply problematic in an Indian context. It assumes a distinction between 'sacred' and 'non-sacred', which many would suggest is largely meaningless in an Indian context. Talking about pilgrimage centres (which are dotted all over India, North to South, East to West, joined together as a vast web of tracks over the entire continent), she says:

....there are so many tirthas [pilgrimage sites] in the sacred geography of India that the whole notion of 'sacred space' as somehow set aside from the profane is cast into question. In Hindu India, sacred space is so vastly multiplied that there is little left untouched by the presence of the sacred, reminding us that ultimately what is at stake is not the capacity of the gods to be present in the world, but rather the human capacity to apprehend that presence. In Varanasi, they say, there is not a place as big as a sesame seed that is not a tirtha, and the same is said of many of India's great tirthas, and perhaps of India itself.... The world is saturated with the sacred.

I'm not quite sure why this interests me so much. It suggests to me that Native American idea of the land as a living body which must not be defiled, which has to be respected. Indian practices call into question almost all of the assumptions that Judaeo-Christian cultures are based upon; not only the idea of human dominion over the earth etc. but also the assumed separation between God and human.

It's no longer possible to take the view of nineteenth century European historians of religion and glibly say, 'Oh, a pantheistic religion, like the Greeks, seeing gods everywhere', or 'Look, primitive peoples believing that nature spirits control the earth'... This is a completely different way of understanding being in the world. What exactly does it mean to understand that there is not a place as big as a sesame seed that is not sacred? What are we talking about using the word sacred to define something that has no opposite - where no non-sacred is possible? How does seeing things this way change the experience of being human (and what might the wider consequences be of shifting to this world view?)


Thursday, 30 August 2012

two strands

Slate image by George Garson; catalogue prints, repeated

There seem two be two strands to my interests at the moment. In my head, they join up. In the painting, they don't quite, not yet, if they're ever going to....

The emergence of Indian art and the sculptures of the gods is discussed in some of the posts below, and is ongoing. It's intense and difficult, and I find I can only take so much of it at a time. It's very conceptual, albeit much of it conceptual about a particular approach to aesthetics (two terms that are often assumed to be contradictory in contemporary discussions about art...). The whole thing hinges on loosely and widely-conceived links between ideas of  'gods, God, man, and nature', in a way that I can't put into words. I perhaps should say, though, that God for me is an idea, not a personal reality.

The other strand of work eddies around a fascination for natural forms; fractals, repetition and novelty. I've just written a post on this on the Exploring Creativity blog. In terms of the images, there perhaps doesn't seem to be much link between these two areas. But in terms of the ideas and the feeling, somehow there is.

Let's see if I can unravel those links through time and working.


Monday, 27 August 2012

work in progress

There's quite a lot of overlap between this blog, which reflects on the actual paintings I'm doing, in terms of content and intention, and Exploring Creativity, which reflects on the creative process. If you're looking here and wonder why it's been silent for a while, check out the other one!

I'm also adding work to the pages at the top. There are some new ones under 'mark' for example...