I often start paintings and then find that they don’t speak to me, or some other thing isn’t working. No matter. I take them off the easel and stack them up in a corner of the studio, temporarily sad and lonely, rejected.
That corner of the studio does become a sort of lost treasure box of marks and shapes and colours, though. Parts of paintings start to catch my eye while I’m working on something else. Ooh, I like that bit, I think to myself. Nothing is ever truly irredeemable, and so when the mood strikes (and this is the important part), I just grab an old painting and turn it into something new.
So, the other day my eyes lit on a particularly large piece of watercolour paper with a whole heap of marks and paint on it that hadn’t, what shall we say, worked out. I felt sad, and thought to give it a fresh start. I had lots of things planned that day, but instead I took that paper, cut it in half, and as though in a trance, started painting.
Birds, I thought. three of them. And blue.
And as if by magic, birds appeared, and the day disappeared.
I became so transfixed with the very painting (and indeed to paint with no plan, following my own nose and discovering what I want to say as I go along is my absolute favourite way to work), that after a tea break I got the other half of the paper and made another intuitive painting in the same ilk, in tandem, similar in scheme but different in character.
I slept on them both. Not literally, though one wonders if I ever took my bed up into the studio (or I suppose, my work to bed) whether that would be the actual end of my husband’s tether. (That could be fun to test, note to self).
The finished thing came together with the title a week later. I came across a poem by Mary Oliver - ‘Wild Geese’. One line jumped out:
And so it does, and in fact that seems to me to be the reason for my very existence. And what a privilege I have of exercising it, every day.
Here then, is ‘My Heart’s Response.’
Which I am happy to report, is already sold.