Stop Coming To My House

This is the painting that started twelve years of frustration, disappointment and heartache. Twelve years of bitter struggle and constant doubt. Twelve years of very slowly learning my craft until, at the age of 52, I found I’d had at least achieved some level of competency, only to realise I’d run out of things to paint. If only I’d paid attention to what I was actually painting back then, I would have known what I was in for, because the clues are all there. Not based on any specific reference material, this image just popped into my head one day, fully-formed, and demanded that I make a painting of it. I did not have clue how to go about it at the time, as paint was the one medium I had consciously avoided, never believing I was quite up to the task. But having exhausted all possibilities with everything else I’d tried up to that point, I decided at the age of forty that it was time to be a painter. So I went at it with a level of commitment I can only marvel at today. This one probably only took a few hours, spread over a couple of days (“and it shows” says a voice and, as usual, I don’t listen to it) but it turned out well enough for me to try again and, in the words of Samuel Beckett, “fail better.” Thus began a three year period of intense productivity as I pursued the idea of making a painting for every song made by my favourite band Mogwai. I didn’t quite achieve that goal, and only ended up with about 25 or so by the time I was done, but that was pretty good going, and during that time I actually learnt how to paint. I learnt how to achieve certain effects that would have once baffled me. I discovered a hitherto unexplored penchant for landscapes, and I gradually became obsessed with making something that mattered, at least to me if to no-one else. Prior to that, the art I’d made was pure entertainment, disposable pop-culture trash, if you will, and there was a part of me that wanted to do something more substantial. The paintings I ended up making for ‘Project Mogwai‘, as I came to call it, were sometimes crude and amateurish, but they were made with sincerity and passion and I look back on them with fondness today. Of late, I have lost that burning desire to make paintings, or to make anything really. I don’t know where it went, but having had it all my life, I feel somewhat bereft and don’t really know what to do about it. So, for now, I’m going back over all my old work, perhaps to rekindle some of that old fire, or perhaps just to remind myself that it hasn’t all been a complete waste of time.

Mogwai – Stop Coming To My House

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