Living in Three Dimensions
Updated: May 27, 2022
- Learning to Cherish Boredom -
Photo taken from the Freswick Castle garden, by my friend, Tze
Last night I enjoyed some time out in the glorious late May sunshine. Today it is raining, but I don't mind. A good dose of sun helps one get through the rainy patches, and maybe the wet weather will encourage me to stay in and start some new work in the studio.
The last weeks have been busy with travel, meetings and events to attend. I seem to be making up for the last couple of years! The most recent trip was to the Wirral and Cumbria which are both distinctive and beautiful places.
Since returning from England I have been feeling rather sluggish...
There were times during these last weeks where I hit moments of so-called boredom between meetings or during the long road journeys. It was in these times that new ideas and things started to happen. Instead of reaching for my phone, I made sure to have my notebook and camera on hand, went for a walk, or stayed open to a potential conversation. You never know where boredom might lead!
I am carrying that principle with me into these upcoming days, to keep the spaces in my life a little more open to the unknown. That can be scary. But strangely enough, without boredom, I believe creativity and a life of inspiration might just pass us by.
The richness in stopping to smell the wide variety of flowers on the roadside (bluebells, lilacs, gorse...), paying attention to the birds (I have been hearing the cuckoo lately!), and pausing to view the landscape is second to none.
The 3-dimensional world is fresh with the layers of vibrancy and life. Therein lives the 'dearest freshness deep down things' (Gerard Manley Hopkins).
Recently my former painting tutor, Paul Martin, died. You can read his obituary in Sunday's Guardian online here. Paul was a brilliant teacher; as much a philosopher and thinker as he was an artist.
He used to talk to me about the depiction of layers and depth on a two dimensional surface. He explained ways of bringing volume, expansion and life to a painting through colour contrast, perspective, the movement of paint on the surface, along with pure expression. He spoke of the physicality and essence of a thing - painting the 'treeness of tree' (Kandinsky coined this phrase in relation to Cezanne and his work) rather than focusing on specificities. All this was ultimately achieved by allowing space between objects through the various layers, marks and colours on the surface in balance with leaving areas open. The process would involve concious decision-making to make the piece shimmer and sing, as well as bring a sense of aliveness to the painting.
Paul Cézanne, Large Pine and Red Earth, 1895
At the time I was enrolled in a painting course, but Paul encouraged me to abandon the canvas for a while and explore space further by using literal objects instead of the paintbrush. So I started creating sculptures and arrangements with found materials which, in turn, informed my painting. After all these years I am only just now beginning to understand this process of depicting space on a flat surface. One of the problems of the internet is that it never allows us to get bored. Endless algorithms are created to keep us entertained and distracted. We end up filling all the spaces available and there is no room for random reflection.
While I realise the internet has its place in the sharing of other cultures and world news, there is a time to switch off - perhaps more often than not - rather than moving to the default position of checking our phones or social media. Let's go with the boredom. Let’s inhabit space fully - live in full colour and dimension - beyond the screen.