Summer News

I wish I could say that every painting idea is born fully formed amid a festival of imagined light and colour. Unfortunately it rarely happens that way (not never – just rarely). For me the process tends to be a bit more organic: first a glimpse of light and shadow, a fragment of colour, and then a half-formed and out-of-focus story emerging around it. As if prematurely born, the idea will often then need some incubator time until it is fully formed.

It was like that recently for my piece Volition. I had the glare of light on a face, the gestures of hands, and a splash of red. Then came the concept of a decision point – a wavering life choice. With this half-formed birth, the idea emerged into the studio in pencil. The blank spaces then demanded more story and colour: the guitar provided colourful art, and a simple hand and scroll counterbalanced it with studious career expectations. The hands joined the opposing ends of the dilemma, which in turn suggested the attire of the central figure. Still, something was missing in the background  – some additional cohesion or a suggestion of allegory. It sat like this for more than a week, in this close-but-no-cigar state, until my daughter walked into the studio one day. She took one look and casually remarked: “creeper”. “What?” I asked. “Creeper – it should have a creeper winding its way up in the background.” I blinked and looked at the sketch and it was immediately blindingly obvious. The missing piece slotted straight in – the metaphor of the never ending, upwards crawling career creep, the very element that threatens to ensnare and which adds menace to the dilemma.

Sometimes all it takes is one casual comment…

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