To tell the story of the large cat painting from two blog posts ago I need to go waaaaay back. It has been a well travelled canvas. It began life to help me get to grips with my doctoral journey. It has transmogrified more than once although it retains traces of former lives. A cat with more than one life. I seem to have lost some images but if they are a true part of the story they will re-emerge.
In the beginning was a large canvas. It's 40 inches by 50 inches. To lose the scary white I played with liquid acrylics and lots of water. Like a giant petrie dish my canvas grew thread-like forms. Colours enable us to interpret depth. An ocean opened up for me. This image came in to my head because the cat painting suggested (yes it did) that I include some fish, some koi carp to be precise, in the flowing fur behind pussy's face. The watery depths of this phase introduced a whale, top left. Top right held the vague promise of a figure in orange and below another, hurrying through the rain, in blue. It feels to me that the painting offers suggestions that sometimes I run with and at other times I bury. Either way any painting begins a long conversation between me and the materials. Between us we decide what matters. Here, with the whale way off in the background I found myself looking at weighty yet remote issues. The very beginnings of something personally big.
Best foot forward, even if it was green. I played with the potential figures on the right and with a labyrinth. The maze-puzzle-come-meditative space became brain-like and a face appeared at the entrance. More figures jumped into the vastness of the canvas, ignored by the reader, deep in her book. Painting is a private occupation. This was all me. I was leaping into the unknown and trying to carry the theory along too. The little tortoise is getting more than a bit squashed in the process. The tortoise had long been a very personal symbol. How apt.
I retreat to dark sky unknowns and a washed up face. Oh oh. Ophelia.
Run away from that image and stick a t-shirt on the book worm. It's cold reading.
But she won't go away so easily.
Trouble afoot. Send in the clowns.
So. I thought that a little boy contemplating the moon and a self-portrait would help. I'm in serious trouble here and looking pretty desperate too.....
My own size sixes squashing my own symbol. The painting is lost in the theory.
It had become a collage of disperate, perhaps desperate, isolated things. The orange paint is an attempt to rent the image, the surface, in two, to try to get at something deeper. And this is how it sits for months while I try to make some sense from what makes no sense. It continued to speak with me. Paintings can be very generous that way. It's next reincarnation was darker and reptilian. More later.
Ceri McKervill PhD
Artist, researcher, art therapist, pragmatist: intent on making life changes with the help of art materials.