Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Rape field

On a walk over the fields to the woods (where the bluebells are blue-ing under the trees) I had stopped at several points and looked and thought: from here would make a good picture. On the Bank Holiday Monday, I packed sketch book, camera, coloured pencils and a piece of card cut out to make a viewer and went back to the first of these places. It is in the middle of a field of rape that is just now bright yellow, with other fields as patches of bright yellow in the distance. The colours of spring – bright merciless yellow, bluebell blue and tender lime green. They alternately jar, vibrate and calm.

There is a tree standing on the horizon as I look uphill, and further away the woods, always the woods. I sketch the position and the colours; I photograph near and distant; I try to absorb. I also pick a stem of the rape and carry it home, feeling guilty at taking one out of the millions. Back home, I paint, get frustrated, paint some more. I painted the stem, the single flower first – not well but enough to see the shape of it and the shading to ochre in the centre. Then a larger picture over several hours. It evolves and changes and gradually becomes something I want to see. I remember that layers of yellow will make it brighter, and paint over and over the field; I change from Process Yellow to Cadmium Yellow which is more jarring and more like; I struggle with the stalks, then make them work by painting the spaces between - dark, and then adding red to be even darker. The little triangle of the track (where the farmer sprayed to kill the rape and clear the footpath) seems to make itself and just needs a few scribs of grass added. (I invented “scrib” to mean a strand of dried grass or plant painted with a tiny gesture of a brush, dry on dry.)

I can see that one of the fields in the background could be a better shape; that the rape flowers nearest to the viewer could be better defined; that the right branch on the tree could be slimmer. But I am pleased with the way the picture shouts for attention, like the field .

Why do I feel the need for an audience for my painting? especially when I find criticism so hard to take?

How can I progress with my art? by which I don’t (just) mean get better technically but something like go deeper or say more...
Do I need to study in a college? or just keep painting?

Why would my paintings ‘say’ anything to other people anyway?

If my work doesn’t progress, I know I would not want to carry on painting at this fairly mediocre level - why is that?

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