I have just finished a painting for a show in Naracoorte. It is an abstract piece based on the view of paddocks and fences from the air.
Understandably, the piece is fairly ‘blocky’ – rectangles and lines, mostly right angles and confined areas. I like many aspects of it; it is layered with colours and neutrals, some scratched back to reveal the underneath; the composition is balanced and pleasing and it has worked out as I envisaged which is not always the case.
It lacks something, though. Not enough to prevent me submitting it but enough for me not to completely love it. It lacks movement. It lacks a random element. It lacks surprise and unpredictability.
Independently of all of that, I am planning a road trip into NSW, similar to one that I undertook two years ago. Some of you may remember. I have carefully arranged it, contacted my friends and family with whom I’ll stay, booked motels for any in-between nights, mapped the route and calculated travelling times. I’m very much looking forward to heading off.
It lacks something though. It lacks movement (apart from the 3,000 km). It lacks a random element (let’s not hope for anything too random). It lacks surprise and unpredictability (I know, as far as possible, what I’m in for).
But it also lacks the unknown. It is respectful to those who know exactly when I’m coming but, therefore, lacks surprise. It is comfortable but perhaps lacks a sense of euphoria?
Perhaps my painting is like that too. Comforting rather than exhilarating. Stress-free, not challenging. True-ish to its subject, not completely abstract.
While I’m definitely happy with the way I travel, I’m not at all convinced those are good alternatives for my art. Perhaps my painting goal this week is to be wild and adventurous, to not know where I’m finishing, to have no idea of the back roads I may take and to land somewhere totally unexpectedly. Therein, perhaps, lies the triumph.