Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Into The Woods...

My wife and I are very self-sufficient, and always work hard at making things work. So despite the disappointment at the situation we now found ourselves in, we were soon off exploring the local landscape with Isaac on foot or by the car, which we had hired for the week. It was my first time driving on the other side of the road, and despite Diane’s nervous protestations from the passenger side (‘you’re going too near the edge! We’re going to be in that ditch in a minute!’ etc), I felt I soon got used to it.

The landscape was very beautiful: not mountainous or particularly rugged like the north of Norway, but rolling, open fields, lots of woodland and forests, and large lakes. We barely saw another soul, as it was now also ‘out of season’ if you like too, with most of the weekend Norwegians in their ‘hitters’ now back in jobs in Oslo with kids back at school.  (On evenings back at the cabin this did seem to enhance our sense of ‘aloneness’ and ‘abandonment’ surrounded by the tall, silhouetted trees against the sky. We sat by candlelight on the porch with the box of wine we felt so glad to have bought at Duty Free).

My I-Pad seem to come into its own on these journeys: the camera and video on it is excellent, but I could also make quick paintings and drawings on it (although I still prefer my sketchbook to draw in with my favoured brush pen), as well as more detailed pieces when we were back in the forest at our cabin: I could start a painting, tuck it away in my bag when Isaac would come along wanting my attention, and then easily resume it again, and make easy alterations in response to the changing light. For the first time, now I look at them in the studio, I thinka few of the paintings I’ve made could be seen as finished digital artworks in their own right which is an exciting development.

I would take my pachode box with my oil paints off on my own to work in more concentrated periods. I’m quite pleased with some of the small oil paintings I’ve made, where I found myself heightening the colour in the purple trunks of the trees, and in the myriad of greens and yellows in the changing, diffused light. This seemed to bring me closer to the feel of the place. The paintings seem to pick up on some of the visual ideas I worked on a couple of years ago in some of my tree paintings, but with more success. The fact they are rooted in a particular place is significant here.

At night though as the darkness descended I continued painting on the porch with a head torch that I use. I painted the barely visible tree trunks that seemed to surround us like ghostly spectres, trying to capture their presence and the bruised green and grey shadows and shapes between them. When I look at these pieces now they seem to have a psychological edge to them that echoes the thoughts and feelings swimming around my head during these days…..

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