Windy days have an energy about them. From the comfort of indoors the gusts and howls down the chimneys are as close as I get to the outdoor action. I was blown about a good bit yesterday. I wanted to paint wind coming up against something immovable. Smeaton’s Tower seemed like a fairly wind resistant structure.
Yesterday, was an artists meet-up. 25 or so of us met up to talk about important stuff like future exhibitions and just to get together to swap news and most importantly to share knowledge. We always take something to work on. I took my windy painting, others took knitting, sewing, jewellery making. Coffee and cake were also involved, of course. Without a single emblem of Spring, the whole event felt like our creative community was fecund and ready to burst out into the world after a winter of doing our thing, largely confined to our own homes and studios.
Talking is the biggest attraction of these monthly events and true to form I did a lot of that. Diligence was required to get this sketch finished before sunset.
I also had a little bit of fun overlaying the photograph with the painting. Possibly increasing the sense of a storm. What do you think?
A commission went off to its new home a little over a week ago. It was a birthday gift so I can only reveal it now. It is the first big painting with washes of colour and a figurative element. Something I’ve been dabbling with since the beginning of the pandemic. If anything the abstract landscape element is simplified in all these pandemic works and the figurative element is symbolic rather than a perfect rendition of an object or person. This was a commission with some guidelines and thoughts from the customer. In an uncertain world many of us like a little certainty. In this picture the certainty is provided by Smeatons Tower and by the words hidden in the rocks.
In other Pandemically created works the certainty is provided by the human form.
I wanted the human to be as serene as a Budha and sexually ambiguous.
One of the things I love about commissions is that they come with a set of conditions that I would not give myself and consequently force me a little beyond my own boundaries. I’ve learnt from bitter and expensive experience not to stray too far from my boundaries to satisfy a customer at the cost of my integrity. All commission’s are a risk but I’ve learned to manage that risk now.
The two pictures seem quite far apart but they are part of my current need to inject something solid and certain into colourful abstracts and they are both an explorative part of future paintings.
For now I’ve just created an apocalyptic high tide.
The link below takes you to an excellent article published in the Guardian today.
Pandemic Ponderings has covered most of the topics mentioned but the whole lot, covered by a proper newspaper, makes for a less whimsical read. Even before this article appeared, today, other people’s writing was going to inform this blog.
This is the book,randomly chosen, for the September choice of my book club. By a huge coincidence a character in this novel visits Plymouth . A couple of comments in the book reminded me of things I have not yet pondered about . Given that this blog is about Plymouth, I will just share the Plymouth based one today. But before that an aside.
An hour or so before this blog was due to be published I finished this book. Further curious and serendipitous connections come to light. I love the book for many reasons, including its locations. It is based geographically in places I know intimately, Cornwall and the area around St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London.
Just as I sit through the rolling credits of films, I also read the acknowledgements in books. This one dealt a huge dollop of serendipity. The author, Sarah Winman writes ” Thank you to The Gentle Author and the community that has grown around the Spitaldfelds Life Blog- you are a constant reminder of why we do what we do”
Spitaldfelds Life is the Gold Standard that drives my writing @theoldmortuary . The Gentle Author guided and encouraged me, and many other blog writers to simply write. The surprise to see him mentioned at the back of this novel gave me such a warm and welcome boost. He really is the loveliest of men , the courses he runs are inspirational.
Returning to talking about the pondering the book inspired. In,A Year of Marvellous Ways, a sexual awakening and affaire de coeur is marked by the gift of a penny which is significant to the location of the entwinement. To illustrate this I need to rummage a bit.
It didn’t take long to find an old penny. Significantly this one would have been used in the Plymouth Area. It was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon an adaptation of a design by his father William Wyon for earlier pennies.
The lighthouse, which can just be glimpsed behind Britannia is Smeatons Tower. Plymouths Iconic Landmark. Imaged on the coin in its original position on the Eddystone Rocks. 9 miles south west of Rame Head in Cornwall. Despite being closest to Cornwall the rocks are within the City limits of Plymouth and therefore considered to be within Devon.
Another blog that shaped its own destiny. Not the journey I planned but the journey that happened whilst I was planning.
A whole career in the NHS, when I was repeatedly expected to work in less than optimal conditions,has always made me want to be in a properly funded work place with good working conditions.
All the clapping in the world cannot make this a reality.
However I am not so hard hearted or embittered not to be moved by the regular Thursday night clap. It affects me in a way I find hard to explain.
The silence surrounding the blue- illuminated Smeatons Tower, two hours after the clap, was a completely different sensation. Something entirely secular, thought provoking and calming. A sort of visual two minutes silence.