Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Last Saturday

Extract from my journal or rather notebook with random ramblings, doodles and scribblings:
Saturday 21 August 2010
I’m sitting in the sun out on our back deck looking north at the little creek that flows down to the sea. It’s got a good bit of water flushing out the weeds after a few days of bleak, cold rain. I’m reading a big heavy book called Studio -  Australian Painters on the Nature of Creativity and trying to recover from a nasty throat, ear, nose, sinus bug thing. 
Board courtesy "H"'and Vita
After reading a post in the Fotos in Noosa website earlier today, I’ve decided to revisit this book and what I call “the curse of creativity” – the trials and tribulations of being creative despite the costs in time, money, relationships, missed opportunities for other activity and worst of all creative blocks. This big glossy coffee table book covers it all by visiting 20 painters from all over the country showing their studios, how they start a project and deal with creative blocks. In the introduction, John McDonald suggests:
“There are as many ways too get started as there are paintings. In most cases, the primary need is to defile that daunting expanse of blank canvas. One applies a backing colour, scribbles or daubs something almost at random – simply to destroy that whiteness which presents itself as more perfect than anything the artist may choose to paint on it.”
Studio -  Australian Painters on the Nature of Creativity
The winter sun on my sorry bones feels good - not too hot and nourishing. My wife brings out yet more medicine – my body wants caffeine but my nose votes for medicine. I look up at the foul looking measuring cup that even my weakened senses can smell and I smile. Out of the periphery of my vision I spot a tree branch that wasn’t there yesterday. In fact it’s an owl-like bird called a Tawny Frogmouth. In 16 years this makes only the second sighting of this species. “A good omen, I hope,” she says as I swig down the concoction that resembles mud diluted with poisonous berries.
All over Australia right now, adults are strolling into electoral booths and running the gauntlet of zealous folk keen to jam political manifestos or "How to Vote" cards into our hands. But not us. Vote early and vote often, some wag will say somewhere in the country. Elsewhere somebody will retell the scandal where dead people were registered to vote and resulted in some electors voting often. No, we are on holidays, so we organised postal votes. And what a chore voting was trying to deliniate between the two major parties and the other 45 aspirants for our Senate – One Australia, One Nation, Family First, Socialist Alliance, a Sex Party and two fishing parties besides all of the random independents. Sadly, the old Party to Expose the Petrov Conspiracy and the Nigel Free Marijuana Party seem to have given the election game away. No doubt retired or in rehab. Maybe the visit from the Tawny Frogmouth is an omen that the Green Party will get more votes than usual in our National Election today?
I leave my art book and the sunshine and chase down a tripod and the biggest lens I own. The house is cold and dark. I fire off a few photos of our feathered visitor. The light is too contrasty on this beautiful still cloudless winter day so I add flash. The session gets into its own rhythm and momentum and eventually I stop. I'm only after one or two keepers, but I have shot 39 photos. My large format photography mates would be horrified, but this isn’t film, that hard. cruel and expensive medium. I return to my art book and chew over the thoughts of Robin Wallace-Crabbe:
“I’ll pick up something and begin in an empty-headed way. If I over-rehearse a series of possibilities they tend to become rather shallow or silly. On the other hand once I’ve got started on a series of paintings the imaginings I take into the studio from outside, often become more complete and plausible – and makeable.”
Studio -  Australian Painters on the Nature of Creativity
A butcher bird swoops onto the old wooden railing, oblivious to the fact that I have painted it 11 times before The Aesthete was happy with the hue (Larkspur Blue, I recall). The bird freaks me out a little – or is that the medicine kicking in? I have mates who believe that when they die they will come back as a butcher bird or a crow or something else. Maybe the Tawny Frogmouth is my old Dad or one of my departed brine brothers. I momentarily contemplate whether I should ring my Mum and ask her about this, after all she had a pet magpie that could talk. No, I think my Dad said he wanted to come back as a sea eagle. No phone call.
The small chinese wind chime that Richard and Suzy gave us before they left the neighbourhood tinkles while a water dragon lizard chases something across the tin roof above us. Most of the old crew have left the neighbourhood for bigger mortgages in better houses on greener pastures. Apart from the guy across the road who works in the mines, we are the street’s longest residents. As I ponder this, a newish green Ford Falcon pulls up in the street below and a young bloke gets out and wanders down to the dirty great Moreton Bay fig beside our property and relieves himself. He doesn’t know that there’s 400mm of lens less that 30 meters away.

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