Nearing the end of the program, I sit on the porch outside my cottage, looking at the raindrops that fall, taking up space in this world that I know so little of. I sit, and I look. Closely. Trying to understand its importance. And suddenly, with a paper and pencil in hand, I start drawing, scribbling to make sense of what I am seeing.
On the very first day of our drawing class with Scott Smith, he quoted Kossoff saying, “Drawing is not a mysterious activity, It is making an image which expresses commitment and involvement. This only comes about after seemingly endless activity before the model or subject, rejecting time and time again ideas which are possible to preconceive. And whether by scraping off or rubbing down, it is always beginning again, making new images, destroying images that lie, discarding images that are dead. The only true guide in this search is the special relationship the artist has with the person or the landscape. Finally, in spite of this activity of absorption and internalization, the images emerge in an atmosphere of freedom.” And with that in mind, I let go of the things in my drawings that make me question their importance.
These past few weeks have been very important in my journey as an artist. I learned a lot about letting go and starting afresh. Whether it is going to Cornwall to paint or drawing from a model in the studio, one thing that we did fearlessly, was rubbing off or scraping down the parts that were beautiful, but had to be erased, to make way for something new, something better (or worse). And the more you do it, the faster you realise how easy it is. At this stage, it is not about making final pieces, but about trying things out. Those things that we are afraid of trying because of the weight of failure that hangs on our heads. I feel we construct lies about the truth just to make ourselves feel more comfortable, but art is in the uncomfortable. It disturbs the comforted and comforts the disturbed. After listening to what Clintel Steed and Deborah Kahn had to say in their lecture and critiques, I realise now that it is about being true to what you are seeing and feeling. That truth might not be pretty or nice, I might not even know what it is yet, but we have to try and look for it, find our own eyes, from our paintings. And sometimes, this vision can come from working and reworking your worst pieces too.
I cannot recall the number of times Megan has walked over to my painting asked me to move everything, or zoom in. Painting over everything with strokes that mean so much and nothing at the same time has a lesson that can only be learned if one is fearless; to be true to every mark.
And so, as I try to portray this feeling of rain falling, I also think of all the things that have made me understand space and movement better, and I know that there is no going back. Because this lesson wasn't a step forward, but a leap into the unknown, where I have to set my foot onto a ground I cannot see, and a world that changes as swiftly as it remains constant.