|'City of Glass 11-StillmanStillman'|
Today, with this piece, I have been reminded 'what painting is, what it can be, the possibilities in painting.......', words I use whenever I teach. As the two canvases were not working together, I separated them- during the day the gap became wider and wider....... The canvas with the red figure had no New York context- the grid of the streets was imposed time and time again , blatantly and subtly, horizontal, vertical, avenue, cross-street, none right but each contributing and enriching the paint, colour and surface.
As artists, we should never be passive with the world we see - we have to do something with it. We should be ambitious for our piece, and strive for something new, something we have never done before or seen before: the trick is to recognise that 'different' thing, however you get there, whether by chance or design or hard slog. This is the excitement we crave.
Many thanks to Janie M McDonald, my fellow artist in the Shire Hall studio. For a couple of days she had been questioning my 'brown' figure - (I was being too literal, one of the Stillman's in the novel has a brown overcoat). Janie remembered the 'blood-reds', I used in our last two stints together at the Shire Hall. But she was also strongly suggesting reversing the canvases as I did in the last painting but all I could see was rutting stags and dilution of the idea behind the painting.
But bloody hell.............
The painting is more about the idea and the centre-line more powerful, with this criss-crossing of the figures and glorious ambiguities and tension about who is in front of who. The figures are fighting for the space - but it is not a space 'out there'. It is a painting space, an ambiguous space, so difficult to find with the human-figure......The painting now has the clarity of last Friday, but with much more. The New York context is there, with the horizontal green band of Central Park and Columbus Circle.
I'll be starting a new painting tomorrow with the same idea of the two Stillmans, but on a single large canvas so there is no option of switching the canvases. I'll have to find my elusive, ambiguous space within the canvas...figures jammed up against the Manhattan shape, perhaps....