Pebbles, spirit and banality

Morning is late, well on time as usual but late for me. My plan for the day is to draw as much as possible, broken up in the middle with a short walk to let the brain and body breath a little. All goes to plan, after a couple of drawings I’m out the door near at about midday heading towards the headland of Rocky Cape underneath the lighthouse. I visited this spot a couple of weeks ago, and its only a short walk, so I toddle off down the track, onto the pebbly beaches, trying to make myself look a little differently this time. But my mind isn’t really here today.

The sun is out, the trees look grand, the sky even grander. The tide is high. I sit and watch the waves come into the shore with some sort of vagued-out blank state of mind. Some days are like this whereby everything goes blank, or perhaps not blank but lost, or with blinkers on.

Rocks 1 Rocky Cape headland Weird tree Rocks 2

I spend about an hour just wandering around the shoreline rock hopping before making my way back to the shack for an afternoon full of drawing. As I wander back to the shack, I stop and sit on a bed of large white very smooth rocks, each about the size of a flat lawn bowls ball. I think of banal landscapes, or empty landscapes, and I think of the work of Vija Celmins and her drawings of sea, earth, and the surface of the moon.

Back at the shack I start to draw rocks, trying to hone in on interesting areas within them. I have collected some rocks from various places and am drawing them too, trying to make them look like large landscapes, or some sort of ‘other’ landscapes, of perhaps vague landscapes.

I get the fire going, I’ve become very good at this now, and relax after an intense day of focusing on drawing, the sun gone taking with it all of the heat of the day. I put on Hitchcock’s 1935 film ‘The 39 Steps’, his last UK film before going to Hollywood. In 1935, my dad was 6, the Second World War is about to start, and film noir is yet to reach to the height of fashion that it will do in the coming years, however this film is stacked with it, as well as great Hitchcock-ian moments of tension, fast moving story and great acting. Enjoyable, yes, his best film, no, worth seeing, yes.

I go to bed with an art catalogue I bought recently titled Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Symbolist Landscape in Europe 1880 – 1910. This catalogue is packed with images and essays. Seven essays in all, focusing on various aspects of landscape portrayal such as naturalism, dreams, the cosmos and rhythms of nature. I am quite taken by many of the images, particularly after my banal, vague day. I think of the spirit of landscape. Much of the work in the book I get a sense is exploring the spirit of landscape, or the spirit of ideas within landscape. I have been thinking much about my artist talk on Saturday and what the hell am I going to say, and this word spirit I think has given me a clear road forward to travel along.