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.
“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…
Here is the second in my ‘roads and signs’ series of landscapes based on photographs I’ve taken over the years as a passenger, being driven from one place to another along Canterbury’s beautiful winding roads but rarely having the opportunity to stop and take a proper photo. I started turning some of my slightly random through-the-window shots into paintings last year and I suspect I’ll continue to do more again this year.
‘Summer Hills’ is a landscape somewhere on the road from Akaroa to Christchurch and very near the location of the painting in my previous post. I’ve included the original photograph, the initial study and several WIP images below:
You may be able to tell from the WIPs that I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with the lower half of the painting — the sky was pretty much there from day one but the foreground was another story. I solved it in the end by mixing a really bright lime green and a vivid blue and just ‘going for it’ (I believe that’s the technical term).