I don’t deliberately try to listen in on conversations. I’d hate to think anyone was doing that to mine. Sometimes, though, those little scraps of talk pop out of the ether. Usually they pass by unnoticed. Occasionally, they trigger a thought.
I came to writing today with no conviction that I had anything worthwhile to contribute for this week. That would have been fine – just enjoy a coffee and head home. As I walked in, though, the café owner and two staff were having what seemed to be an impromptu discussion on the back deck. As I walked past, I caught a definite ‘We have to think outside the square, don’t we?’
It’s by no means a new phrase or exhortation, but it caught my ear.
For some time, I’ve been musing about the fact that painting and other two-dimensional forms of artistic expression are so often confined to a square or the like. Straight sides and right-angles are, regularly, the essence of what we choose as our surface. Certainly that’s what I, unthinkingly, grab when preparing to work. We look for fluidity and looseness in our craft but limit it inside a box. There are occasions where that contributes to the piece. There are times when it is simply the default.
With an intensive period of painting approaching, and a roll of unstretched canvas at my disposal, I am resolved to experiment with some other shapes: torn and ragged edges, kooky corners and the like. Those pieces may never see the light of day. They are unlikely to ever be stretched on a frame although you could mount them as you might paper. I am encouraged to think beyond that default square, further out and down than a straight edge allows.
It may come to naught, but at least I will have pushed the boundaries. It may be successful as an adjunct to more conventional approaches. Let’s get the stanley knife and the hand-tearing onto my six square metres of canvas and see what happens.
I’ll let you know!