Gradually my spirits have risen as my health appears to have improved. I say ‘appears’ as when I wrote in January about emerging from the tunnel of fear that cancer creates I did have at the back of my mind the old joke about the light at the ends of the tunnel being a train coming the other way. Well. In my case it seemed it could be as whilst I had been told I was ‘cured’ of bladder cancer the docs found a tumour elsewhere. One exploration has found this to be benign, but wanting to make sure the docs have scheduled another operation in a few days’ time to double check.
The weight of fear was however lifted from my mind and I have begun to once more work up a momentum in the studio. The drawings have not yet returned to the vigour of the ‘Wave’ series, but slowly things are coalescing around ideas in two different directions, reflecting two visual constants in my life – the garden and the seascapes around me. On the one side I am extending and exploring the imagery first noted in my January piece on the shore, and in this piece I am sharing the developing changes and explorations of the garden.
The images originated in drawings in the sketchbook made in the garden of the Windflower, supplemented by photographs which I had, fortunately printed off. I say fortunately, because I discovered that if you delete images from the Windows 10 photo album on your ‘C’ drive it also deletes them from your server – I lost all my images for April through this fault in programming. I do not use the Windows photo album normally, had done so only briefly (through my laptop whilst away) and will now never touch it again, working straight into my own server archive now, and if away saving to a portable hard drive.
The drawings along with the prints I had made have fortunately been enough to generate the drawings I need. I am revisiting the nature and size of the grid I use for the displacement of the colour from the image. I have three canvases on easels in the studio, two roughly three feet square I am working on simultaneously. I would prefer to work larger but the size of my studio space constrains the dimensions of the canvases, so I am playing with the nature and size of the grid within them to see what works best at this more domestic scale.
The collages sort of work, but feel very pedestrian to me, and don’t deliver the sense of change and excitement I have achieved previously. That will be pushed into my subconscious and worked through in various experiments involving printing off images large scale, additionally maybe working something through in a screen print to incorporate texture as I did in the print of ‘Cadmium Red, Rose Madder’ where I experiments with different types of mesh on the screen to create thick textured deposits of ink on the paper, as the detail here shows.
The pencil drawings answered more questions than the collages and I have been working through pages of the sketchbook and now onto the two canvases to see where it will lead. Meanwhile other canvases wait, one for a reworking at a different scale of the Honeysuckle painting, for which I have had an enquiry from the States.
In parallel with this I continue to write and to explore imagery through the camera whilst preparing work from my October exhibition in the Crypt Gallery in Seaford (note for your diary, 14th – 23rd October) Some framing goes out to my framer, other I am doing and a little pile is building up in the office now.
Keeping the creative activity moving steadily along rather than in disjointed fits and bursts has been difficult with painful and intrusive medical procedures getting in the way. Not least these have impacted mentally. Strange how physical the activity of painting is for me and how much ill health impedes the activity. I can understand something of the mental and physical frustration Vincent van Gogh must have gone through. I haven’t cut off an ear yet, but sometimes I feel like I want to…
Ironic then that the screen printing in the late 1970’s is one of the likely sources of the cancer that has affected my health over the last two years, through my exposure to carcinogenic chemicals. When you are young you don’t take all the warnings and safety issues seriously, you may feel invulnerable and believe that it won’t happen to you. Be warned, it does and it will, it catches up with you in later life.