Charting Time and Motion

Time is running away with me! Since my return from Iona, whole hours have been soaked up by dashes and drips of paint. I have been finding ways to chart time and tide. Hours in the studio seem to have gone by at double speed. Brushes loaded with colour have leapt along through the Spring and I find myself in July. I opened my studio for the weekend and there was lots of discussion and pondering.

All of this has led me to wonder about how brains work with regard to time; how we store information; whether time is actually just about perception? Or how a whole passage of movement might be put onto canvas to be unfurled by the viewer at a later date… ambiguity of time… mmm there’s a thing to consider…

I have been relishing painting on a larger scale and at a slower pace. Laying paintings on the floor, pouring paint and experimenting in all sorts of ways. It has led me to explore the speed and weight of marks and to think about how each one might be ‘read.’ The idea of marks coming to life and starting to lift off the canvas is one I love, when a painted mark seems to hop and skip on its own, the real fun begins! Here are a few close up details.

I wondered then about marks exiting the canvas… an idea I am exploring with this painting, ‘Curl Of Time.’ I thought about the tiny canvases at the sides as being a bit like pixels… almost like a directory of marks and speeds. Ideas about how to chart a moving form are leading me to think about ways of storing information, notation, memory, writing and other ways of condensing a movement.

I am thinking about a wave coming in to the beach, breaking and pulling out again. How to paint this whole passage of motion? With this painting ‘Submerge’ I decided to place the viewer in the water, so that you are actually part of it, not just watching from the shore, but being tumbled in the waves. It is very much about finding the right marks to create a language of paint that can be ‘read’ and translated, so that several people looking at the painting could all read it a bit differently. In this way each person can bring their own timescale and experiences to the picture.

I have introduced a grid in some paintings recently, as a predictable, regular line against which all of the fast, loud, engulfing and chaotic paint can move… a way of charting and understanding the heaving mass of Atlantic waves. Geometry is something I might explore more as a way of underpinning the paintings… a lot of possibilities. I have also been experimenting with printed fabric instead of canvas, rather like painting on a frequency or a background “hum.” This is about investigating and inventing as well as balance.

Many, many ideas are flowing. The undercurrent charts a natural rhythm through all the paintings. I am fascinated by how the mind stores information and in the nature of perception… these paintings are part of a much wider inquiry… I will have to see where it leads!

The waves and rocks are about to be replaced by flowers and trees, lakes and manuscripts. The natural flow and rhythm of tides are morphing into the rhythm of creative thoughts and flow of words. I am delighted to have been invited to work with the Wordsworth Trust on their exhibition entitled: ‘Weather Words’ and making a painting for it by using an extract from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal. I am enormously excited by this idea!

I am thinking of this as an extension of my charting time, speed and motion, but instead of using an external starting point (like a wave movement) I am using an internal one – thoughts and the creative process. So all that I learnt about collaborative sharing and pooling of ideas in Iona will be put to good use. Charting the flow through time.