Original artwork by Judith Ann Brown
I must share with you a book I am reading on Winifred Nicholson called Liberation of Colour, which I know that you would love.
Towards the end of her life she painted prismatic paintings full of spiritual content. I had seen her work at Kettle’s Yard (which in fact was where the book screamed “buy me”) but had never encountered these powerful works before. They take your breath away with their clear sight and have titles such as Consciousness, Clarion Call and Whisper and Candle, Eigg. The penultimate painting in the book, The Gate to the Isles (Blue Gate), is exquisitely beautiful and hints at other worlds of beauty.
There is so much I would like to quote to you…
“I have been able to get a glimpse of Life and living power, but I have only been able to express the very simplest first letters of the alphabet of Spirit, something to do with cheerfulness, not even yet joy, far less the full diapason of Truth. But I’ve done enough to know that it’s there just beyond the realm of our consciousness, and I always know that some of us, some humans, will reach it.”
“The conscious self is so small, so limited – the unconscious universe is so huge, so unlimited.”
And last but not least “My paint brush always gives a tremor of pleasure when I let it paint a flower.”
“Any child could paint that”
How many times have I heard this response to abstract art.
I love the fabled reply from Alan Davie – not if they tried.
Oil paint takes a long time to dry. People ask how long does it take you to make a painting. Some say a painting is never finished. The truth is I will set a work aside to rest many times before I feel happy. And sometimes the happiness is only temporary…
There is heat, there is work, there is painting…
“The eye sees only fronts, and the mind, on the whole, is satisfied with fronts. But intuition needs all-roundedness, and instinct needs insideness. The true imagination is forever coming round to the other side, to the back of presented appearance. “ David Bomberg
Bridge Over The Cam/ The Air On Our Face
I am reading The Goetheanum Cupola Motifs Of Rudolf Steiner: Paintings by Gerard Wagner translated and edited by Peter Stebbings. It was one of those wonderful finds whilst browsing the stacks at Cambridge University Library There is an incredible chapter at the end of the book titled A Path Of Practice In Painting. In this chapter Gerard explains the years of experiments and practice undertaken with colour “to train one’s color feeling.” The process he explains is familiar to any artist who paints because they must: that mystical, transcendental feeling of ethereal flow.
“At the moment of appearing on the surface of the picture, they (colours) are actually at the end of their path.”
Apron strings…such an emotive phrase that I wanted to share a little bit about what it means to me.
When my son was young we were given a book called “The Children’s Year” by Stephanie Cooper, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marye Rowling. On the copyright page there is a quote from Rudolf Steiner where he talks about the importance of art and beauty, in the pictures of life that the child is exposed to. This view of childhood and family is idyllic and nostalgic.
In contrast to this, I am drawn to the images of childhood produced by Joan Eardley. There is one with the title Pat and Anne Samson, which I am totally fascinated by. You can sense the future women in these two children; there is such a strong sense of kinship…all that vitality and the thwarting.
And as I put on my artists’ apron to paint, all of my feelings are left in a tangle.
Postscript. After writing this I set about some research and it was not hard to find a story about Pat and Anne, the children in the Eardley painting. I love that Joan fed them treacle and cheese sandwiches.