THERE ARE WHITE FLOWERS growing beautifully about this rusty old wheel at the front of our truck, but I haven't had a chance to go and look at them these last weeks because I have been painting. Painting at night, painting in the days, painting in the bits in between.
I am emerging gradually from underneath an elephant of exhaustion which is the result of two manic weeks of exhibition preparation. Up in that tree I knew not of the long hours of desperately focused painting that lay ahead. I have always been a last minute artist and I think really that I work well under pressure, even though I don't like it one bit. I like best to be able to set my drifty painting pace to meander around my days as they go, but when an outside deadline looms, I fear failure above all and morph into a new creature with an iron will to finish it, no matter how leaden my eyelids or how loud my inner screams.
I had two paintings to complete before the opening and both are, I think and hope, the best things I've done. And while I have painted like a thing possessed, Tui has made me the most lovely picture frames from found wood.
Along from where our house rests its wheels is a pile of moss and timber that was once a barn. The roof has caved in completely and all around nettles and brambles grow. There by the barn-that-was lie stacks of old pallets. Weathered by time and the sky, grey and holey. Perfect for a poverty stricken artist who cannot afford expensive framers. I bought cheap clip frames to provide the glass and the backing and had mounts cut. The rest was done by Tui with glue and staples and sandpaper. Here are the magnificent rustic results in progress and in all their gallery glory!
These two latest works have music coming from them. If you lean close and listen, you'll hear strains of strange East-European melodies, for those are the musics that move me.
If you have not yet heard the exquisite harmony singing from Bulgaria, sung sometimes with the accompaniment of the goat-bagpipe, the gaida, I urge you to - there is nothing like it. I've recommended it before but A Harvest, A Shepherd, A Bride - Village Music of Bulgaria is a wonderful collection of songs which I think is how this painting would sound if you could for a moment swap your ears with your eyes and listen to it. Anyhow, the point is that the painting I worked on up in that tree studio became this below. I am very pleased with it, and I rarely say this. A new tiny paintbrush has led me to paint fine lines describing the shapes of faces and hands and feet with finely diluted oil paint. And these different-sized people fit happily into the odd shaped piece of wood, singing their Bulgarian harmonies, while the little fellow plays heartily on his gaida. I only managed to take one photo of this painting amid the recent chaos, but here it is... (that first word of the title means 'sing' or 'we sing' - unless any Bulgarian readers can tell me otherwise?)
I took photos of this one as I went which I share with you here.
So there it is, I am pleased with my work, though I became far too exhausted to be able to 'see' it properly by the end. The night before the opening of the exhibition I was still painting... and went to bed, finally putting the battery in the back of the clock, and setting it to twenty to eleven. On waking.. it still said twenty to eleven and there followed a morning of panic, re-drilling and just a little throwing of pliers. With just half an hour to spare we arrived and hung the clock in its place on the gallery wall. There it'll be for all to see, and perhaps to buy until the 10th of May. These rather nice photos of it below were taken for the Imagine Gallery website.
Now I'm off to not paint for a few days and enjoy the wonderful springing springtime...