Sunday, August 06, 2006

inspired by...

Yesterday I went to an exhibition of Howard Hodgkin's work at Tate Britain. He calls himself "a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational pictures of emotional situations."

He also said, "My subject matter is simple and straightforward. It ranges from views through windows, landscapes, even occasionally a still-life, to memories of holidays, encounters with interiors and art collections, other people, other bodies, love affairs, sexual encounters and emotional situations of all kinds, even including eating..."

With paintings entitled things like Downstairs, Waking Up in Naples, In Paris with You, Fisherman's Cove and After Visiting David Hockney, I couldn't help but be inspired by his work. Not only because of the way he uses colour and paints outside of and over frames and on things like chopping boards and door panels, but because of the possibilities they opened me up to. It made me feel free, made me feel like I could paint for myself and not according to a set of rules of what's acceptable and what isn't, which the snobbery of art often puts across to amateurs like me, whether intentionally or not. It's not like I wasn't allowed to paint freely before, especially within the confines of my own four walls, but seeing his work was like someone putting a light on in my head. The difference being that now I feel I can paint about anything I want, or more specifically, it's like a wise teacher saying to me gently, and by the way, did you know you could do things this way?

Here is one of my favourite paintings of his, Downstairs.

Ever since I saw the exhibition I've been itching to get some oil paints and some old wood panels or bits of unwanted fruit cartons or pieces of cardboard and just start painting. Oh if only I could find an old door!

Twenty four hours later, this is what popped into my head. Sketched not on wood but on a 6 x 6 inch page in my sketchbook and painted in watercolour. I've never used oils before, and have yet to acquire some. This will do in the meantime.

you're a mass of contradictions, pencil and watercolour on paper.

This is not exactly how I'd envisioned the painting in my head, but this is what came out after I started drawing. Watercolour was probably not the best medium for this, but it was what I had to hand.

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