Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Painting - real life and fiction

I have been busy painting (mostly commissions) and am currently doing some housekeeping on my website and this blog, so it might look a bit messy here over the next few weeks. 

I am extremely, obsessively tidy in most areas - after a day's work, I put everything away, and this photo shows my studio in what I would call a chaotic state... (Sometimes I wonder whether I would be more creative if I could embrace a messy environment. I find Francis Bacon's studio fascinating and horrifying in equal measures). But on the computer clutter comes in so many disguises, and a lot of them require an IT person to sort them out and/or are frustrating to deal with, so I tend to let things accumulate and close my laptop and go and arrange my skeins of yarn or tubes of paint by colour, both of which are immensely satisfying tasks.

Apropos painting, I just finished reading the novel Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale, a new discovery for me. I love when a writer is able to conjure up a fictional artist who is completely believable and whose imagined work comes alive on the page. Siri Hustvedt does it exceptionally well and so does Gale, and I was surprised to learn that far from coming naturally to him, it was "totally alien" subject matter and thus a challenge. I am still thinking about his character's paintings. 

The other themes of the book - death, grief, mental illness, family dynamics - are also close to my heart, and Gale writes with empathy and insight. The structure of the book is handled so elegantly that I wasn't really aware of its form until the end. And it makes me want to go to Cornwall again. I went through a Daphne du Maurier phase a while ago, and between being immersed in her life and work and now Gale's, the Cornish landscape has become tangible like a fresh memory, even though I was a child when I last spent time there.