Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Painting the stove
Writers know something of this too. Julia Cameron in her book, The Artists Way, suggests three pages of writing every morning which she calls 'morning pages'. The process is close to writing as a stream of consciousness; your hand should never stop moving; you are not creating, simply reacting to the flow of your thoughts.
That's the sort of puzzle philosophers like, and it's given me an idea for a piece about the illusions words create. So already this post that was going nowhere has opened up some new possibilities.
Another trick I used as a painter was to rip up old pictures, retaining a fragment of the past as a starting point for the new. Frank Auerbach works this way, drawing and erasing, drawing and erasing, drawing and erasing... many of his pictures are patched because he has worn the paper through. I find that using fragments works less well with writing, however, I know others who think the approach is helpful.
But for all the tricks and techniques, sometimes it is serendipity that matters most.
Yesterday, taking some junk to my car, a blackbird took offence at me in 'her' garden. The closer I approached, the more agitated she became. She puffed along a branch, her cries receding as I stood motionless - until we faced each other for a long silent minute.
I'm not sure I've ever looked that closely at a blackbird. She wasn't black at all, but a sparkling umber, with a speckled chest and an orange ochre beak. Her head was cocked to one side, a green eye staring at me, staring at her. Blackbirds are one of our commonest species, I thought; we must pass each other every day. And yet I couldn't say which of us appeared the stranger to the other.
Our postman came ambling up our drive, and the moment was gone.