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.