Any road will take you there

Any Road Will Take You There – acrylic on canvas, 405 x 405 mm, 2017. Available for purchase.

Any Road Will Take You There – acrylic on canvas, 405 x 405 mm, 2017. Available for purchase.

God bless our contradictions, those parts of us which seem out of character. Let us be boldly and gladly out of character. Let us be creatures of paradox and variety: creatures of contrast; of light and shade: creatures of faith. God be our constant. Let us step out of character into the unknown, to struggle and love and do what we will. Amen.
‘A Note on God’ by Michael Leunig

Yes, I’m still exploring Arthur’s Pass in paint. ‘Any Road Will Take You There’ is similar to ‘A Road Runs Through It’ and ‘Summer Somewhere’ but also quite different. This time I’ve hinted at the telegraph poles and allowed the foreground to melt into the mountains. I really pushed myself to do something I hadn’t done before and I’m very happy with the result. And if the title sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a paraphrase of a line spoken by the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.” It’s also a line from a George Harrison song but I didn’t realise that until after I’d named it.

Questions

Summer Somewhere – acrylic on canvas, 405 x 405 mm, 2017. Now available for purchase.

Summer Somewhere – acrylic on canvas, 405 x 405 mm, 2017. Now available for purchase.

“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” Anton Chekhov

I found myself asking a lot of questions while painting ‘Summer Somewhere’ — mainly about colour, mood, and about what was essential to the picture. I painted telegraph poles; I took them out. I had the blue road disappearing into the horizon because that’s what it did; I painted over it. It was too cold, all blue and white and green and grey; I mixed an entirely new palette for the middle foreground. And then I stopped…

A road runs through it

A Road Runs Through It – acrylic on canvas, 205 x 2015 mm, 2017. Available for purchase.

A Road Runs Through It – acrylic on canvas, 205 x 2015 mm, 2017. Available for purchase.

“The painter knew that color was not something you controlled but something you set free. He believed that color knew its way home.” Thomas Lloyd Qualls

I really like the idea that colour knows where it wants to go and the best thing the painter can do is relax and get out of the way. To not try so hard. To not worry so much about getting it right or wrong.

Looking back at the journey this little study has taken me on, I realise that I actually painted about three different paintings, each one over the top of the other. I’m quite happy with the final version with its blue and purple mountains and dramatic shadows, but I really could have stopped sooner and I would have been happy with those paintings too.

Late last year, I started several larger versions of this landscape but I stopped working on them because I couldn’t quite manage to get the colours I wanted. Putting the paintings to one side and taking time out to do this one has helped me to relax and stop worrying about them. And now I’m finally ready to put them back on the easel, move a bit of paint around and see what happens.

Tidying

Blackout poem #14

Blackout poem #14

“If things bring you joy, keep them.
‘What? You still have that?’
Yes. I keep them because they are treasure.”

I’ve been reading (and finding blackout poetry in) Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ and don’t let the poem fool you… I am preparing to embark on an epic journey. The book — and the KonMari Method — are intriguing and, yes, potentially life-changing. I’ll keep you posted.

summer snow

Photos from the road

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Here are a few of the photos I took while travelling to and from Dunedin last weekend. Note the snow on the Southern Alps in the middle of summer! Well done, New Zealand!

I couldn’t help myself… the rolling hills, the purple mountains, the different textures and patterns in the landscape, the shifting light, the fascinating clouds… I think I took close to 200 photographs! And now many of them are whispering (quite loudly) “paint me”…