Buddhists regard the water lily as a symbol of enlightenment – something beautiful emerging from the primorial mud. If I only paint one painting per season (and it seems I do), this is a representative subject for the past summer. Being an information hound with anxious tendencies it is far too easy for me to get mired down in the slop of our current circumstances and the neverending barage of the newstream. The best relief is to strip it all away and go quiet. Thankfully, the way I paint is a full-package deal for achieving “Quiet.”
Step one: you go outside. Alot. You walk, and look, and think, and imagine. Then you do that again and again. Maybe some sketching. Think of movement and shape, colour and meaning. In the case of the source of this painting you go outside then go exploring with a likeminded friend who (handily) is both good company and knows her way around this countryside. You stop at a perfect and still lake that you didn’t know existed. You take pictures and sketch, talk at length about the place you are in – history, natural history – what it means to each respectively.
You go home and you pleasantly obsess. Is this a scene I want to commit to? How should I go about it? Think about it some more. Maybe read things that allow you to draw connections to the act of painting this thing in particular. Then, one Saturday morning you get stuck in. A sketch that doesn’t work then sort of works. The satisfaction of saturated hue of paint straight from the tube on favourite brushes that are starting to go nubby but still do the job. Then a tremendous about of absorbtion with small victories and gnawing frustrations washed down with good music and coffee. While this is happening nothing else matters. Not the kids screaming at each other. Not the dust bunnies. Not the fall of democracy in the US. Quiet.
And so, over time (or, a season) – rinse and repeat, a painting emerges. And despite what I might say it is always beautiful to me because I went through this process to make it. Something beautiful and elevating from the mud of the everyday human circumstance.
And that was my Summer, 2020. Now for Autumn (otherwise known as the best season of all).