Tuesday, 15 April 2008


I bought anemones. I drew them in pencil, over several days, pushing, erasing, shaping, making the drawing ‘like’ an anemone. The anemones start to die but I keep them. On a sheet of watercolour paper, I place a wash of paynes gray, quite wet. It runs. I dab it with the sponge which lifts off some wash in splodges. This is not particularly attractive. It stays on the easel (yes, the easel) for a week. One day I want to paint the anemones on the sheet – the dripping gray somehow calls for them. The white splodges recall something of them.

Ultramarine and Rose mix into the purple and the pink of anemones. The earlier drawings inform what I do; I don’t copy them but I use them; doing them has familiarised my eyes and hands and the connections between them that form the shapes. Sunday morning before visiting my father fading away in the hospital, tears come as my brush makes an anemone on the drippy paper – a fading anemone. My sadness is making the painting. It becomes so powerful that I have to stop and leave it. When I come back and look at it, it is after all quite small and insignificant, fading into its background.

So the next day, I mix some more paint and work on the second and third flowers. I just want the three flowers – to add stems would not be right for it – unless perhaps drawn with pencil or charcoal.

The steroid injection took the pain out of my hand – wonderful. And sleeping all night without dead hands waking me.

In between the two anemone versions, I saw Nederlands Dans Theater in London - amazing skill at work. The middle piece was called ‘Signing Off’ and the music was Philip Glass’s Concerto for violin and orchestra; at the back of the stage were two huge lengths of dark silk that billowed forwards, in waves that moved down along the material and on to the stage. The music repeats its sad falling melody, more and more slowly, and the dancers move more slowly and gently, turning their backs to the audience, and disappear into the darkening silk, slowly fading from us. More emotion. My new friend perceptively remarked, "So, you've started mourning." The dance experience, the anemone painting experience, and the experience of holding my father’s hand as he disappears into his confusion meld together into mourning.


Anonymous said...

I found your commentary on the production of your anemone pictures incredibly moving, Lynne. The sense of mourning and one state flowing into another reminded me of Mark Doty's poem 'Beach Roses'. Do you know it?

I love the sense of luminosity in the water colour version, and that effect of fluidity as the paint has run. So pleased you are back to art again.

Lynne said...

thanks for the comment.
I found Mark Doty writing about the proces of making a poem:

I liked the idea that his metaphors go ahead of him and lead the way into a poem!

and the poem you mentioned (although I won't copy it all because it's not fair on the poet...)
It ends --

And we talk
as if death were a line to be crossed.
Look at them, the white roses.
Tell me where they end.