Wednesday 28 October 2009

I Am Covered With Blue Paint an account of setting up the exhibition on the end of a life with cancer, to be held 7 - 13 December in Chichester, West Sussex where I talk of the paintings I have begun in January 2007 just 8 weeks after the death of Steve Shaw

I am covered with blue paint. I used not to like blue, I thought it was a boring colour and only useful when nothing else was available. To me, blue was the lowest common denominator. It was what those who had no passion used to choose when asked What Is Your Favourite Colour? It was what passed as normal in a conversation amongst unimaginative folk when discussing new shirts, new jumpers, new curtains and so on. I had visions of people with not much to talk about invited to a fancy party, and making the effort to go an buy a new outfit. I imagined them going to the Navy Blue Section of the local boutique and selecting, with short gasps of anticipation, a lighter shade of navy blue than they had on at the time, and making the decision to Go Mad and Have It. And then, at the fancy party, wearing the very personally brave Lighter Than Before shade of Navy Blue, wondering if there was a space in the cupboard under the stairs they could hide in until they felt they could deal with the attention they were bound to get as this new and daring Party Animal.

Those who seemed to plod along in this life without much ambition liked blue. Those who liked to play safe chose blue. People like me however, exciting passionate loud and unconventional types, liked Red. And Scarlet and Hot Pink. Colours to do with Fire and Noise. I wouldn't have blue, I said, if you paid me. Not on your nelly. Banish Blue, I told those who would listen, Make A Difference.

Here's what happened. As I made the effort to avoid blue in my life, as I made the effort to shine brighter than the Blue Brigade, I made and sold many paintings. What was the underlying theme of all these paintings? Why, they were represented in the sky. What colour is the sky? Blue. It dawned on me that despite my awareness of the Boringness of Blue, a) it made my paintings colourful and successful and b) everybody liked it. Even the deeply creative types that bought them. Good Heavens. And I liked all the people that bought my paintings, I thought them interesting and full of untapped brilliance because they appreciated my work.

Well. So a beautiful shade of hot light sky blue was the unifying theme of all my paintings. I will accept that, I thought, and maybe that particular shade of blue is good. In my unguarded moments I thought it was wonderful. Then I noticed that when I looked deep into the eyes of each of my children, they were blue. My children had blue eyes. They were not boring, and each child had a different shade of blue. I moved to be by the sea, and the sea took on all shades of blue, grey and green imaginable. I went to a ball and Alan hired me a ball dress. The lady in the shop knew her stuff and handed me what looked like ghastly shades of that Lighter Shade of Navy blue colour that I had previously scorned. When I put it on my skin glowed, my eyes deepened and my hair looked lustrous. Alan said I looked beautiful and the woman in the shop clasped her hands to her bosom and wept with pleasure. Just my colour they said, just my colour.

Today I am in my studio painting the background of the Angels in a mixture I have made from two or three blues in my paint box. Yesterday I covered a large canvas in a shade of blue I could not describe, it is so deep and significant. Around the studio are paintings waiting to dry, of blue angels, blue backgrounds, figures wearing blue and a poignant painting of some blue slippers. I look at my hands and they are blue. I look at my eyebrows and nose when I go past the mirror in the studio and they are blue. My painting coat that I absolutely adore because it belonged to my grandfather, is blue. My kitchen is full of my favourite crockery and lo. What is this theme that is emerging? They are blue and white striped or blue and white polka dot.

So in this world we inhabit, so many things are going on. The M1 motorway celebrates 50 years of existance this year. America is Changing with a new president. Michael Caine is out of retirement and is in a new film. And in Bognor Regis, an artist has had a humbling experience in which she is coming to terms with the fact that Blue is Fab. That she is in fact, a victim of her own narrow mindedness and that Blue is Only A Colour, It Is Not A Threat. That it doesn't take blue to make another boring, blue is not a signal to avoid all contact. And if I like blue now, I am still passionate, I still love Red, Hot Pink, Orange, Yellow and Fire Colours. The new acknowledgement of Blue in my life gives me depth. I am now Deeply Passionate.

Here I sit at my computer then, covered with blue paint. I am wearing my grandfather's blue coat with utmost pleasure (it reminds me of him) and drinking tea from my blue and white spotted mug. My children gazed at me this morning with their blue eyes and I am thinking the once unthinkable for the paintings I am doing at the moment. Only Blue Will Do.

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