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I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Grey Cross, Immortal Artist and "Legacy"

I am honoured to be featured on Immortal Artist, the blog site of Grey Cross, as the premier artist for November.

Grey's work is hard to summarise: experimental and continuously evolving art; a living blog which is also constantly evolving and developing; an untiring promoter of opportunities for artists; a champion of other artists; tireless on Twitter.  His blog motto: "Always approach your art with a warrior's spirit and a saint's heart."

If you haven't visited his blog site, I suggest you do so. For artists, there is so much of value; for lovers of art, so many riches;  for anyone with a soul, much nourishment, for anyone with an open mind, much that will provoke reflection.

And now a little about my painting, "Legacy" which is featured on Immortal Artist.

Legacy, acrylic on canvas, 36 by 24 inches

What it is "about"

Anglo-Australians, like myself, have always had a problematic relationship with the land of Australia. On the one hand the land is seen as hostile, strange, ripe for exploitation; on the other, seen as unique, beautiful and fragile. Neither relationship strikes me as particularly healthy. Contrasting to this is the orientation of the original peoples, who see country as a living, contemporary and eternal, spiritual and material reality, not separate from persons. The continuous interchange between humanity and country is mutually supportive and both spiritual and material. There is no separate conception of "nature" v "humanity",  "spiritual" v "material".

The neolithic and mythic evidence points to a similar orientation being prevalent among the pre-christian Anglo-celtic peoples. (Paul Devereaux, 1992, Symbolic Landscapes: Dreamtime Earth and Avebury's Open Secret). Now, I neither want to romanticise the Aboriginal orientation nor develop some sort of new agey fantasy of a golden past, nor do I want to appropriate the Aboriginal notion of country; but I do want to acknowledge, explore and understand my own connectivity with nature as an empath.

In particular, I feel deeply the pain and scars caused by the people of my lineage on this land. That pain and its associated longing for healing of nature and ourselves underlies the work I am currently doing.

So that is what legacy is "about".

How it developed

Since I paint intuitively, I don't begin with a firm concept, but rather some sort of initiating gut feeling. I had been developing small scale composite Australian landscapes from collage elements and gouache. 

"Legacy" grew out of that work as a larger scale expression of the same feelings and concerns. 

It was painted fairly quickly. By day 3 it looked like this.I remember that it was a struggle to get to this stage. At this point, I was hopeful and dissatisfied at the same time. Something was just not right about the composition. 

After letting the painting rest and just watching it for a few days, I realised that those lovely swirls of tumble-weedy paint just had to go. One has to be bold. adding the red rust bar meant that a further red-rusty "hill" had to be added above the horizon and the existing red-rust "hut"? had to be strengthened so that there was a triangular connectivity of shape and colour.  That necessitated the strengthening of the counter circular movement through the main lines of the composition. 

Now this sounds awfully well-thought out. At the time, I was simply responding to the painting. This is all post-hoc explanation.

As you may guess, it was at this point that my thoughts about what the painting was "about" started to become clearer.

But one thing I have noticed, time and time again.

And I also find that the destroyed part will turn up somewhere else at some time.

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