Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thoughts Skimming The Surface Of My Mind Like Dragonflies for my website for the best known of my images, Jesus being ignored on a Tube Train for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life

On The Skimming And Flitting Of Thoughts

If my mind is as a bog, which it often is, then the thoughts - gentle spindly creatures longing for life and flight - go boing boing plod plod squelch across it. If my mind is heavy and thick, then it is an effort to catch and hold these thoughts.  The surface over which they skim is too dense and muddy to hold them, and I am aware that whatever new inspiration, new idea, new insight I have, it can't sink below the surface.  This is not an easy state of mind, and one which I think we all have for a great deal of the time.  There is always inspiration from the world around us.  There is always that colour that flashes past our eyes that makes us long to do something creative, that phrase someone uses in a sentence about sub prime mortgages on the radio that is the catalyst for something we want to do that has nothing whatsoever to do with sub prime mortgages, but makes sense to us on an inexplicable level.  There is the chance meeting with someone who leads to someone else, there are countless such things that fill our days if only we can see them.  If my mind is like a solid brown squashy peat bog then the best I can hope for is to just catch the tail ends of the thoughts and inspirations as they pass above me.  

And then if the bog evaporates, these thoughts and ideas dance across my mind like those long spindly but exquisitely delicate creatures that skim the most tranquil and beautiful of lakes.  If my mind is clear and deep, if there is nothing to prevent an idea from falling into it and dropping deep into the water, and then I can do anything.  I notice the way someone is standing in town and use it in a painting that needs that pose.  I watch  colours pass in front of my eyes, noticing everything about them and place them in something that needs those colours.  I can understand words, I can take thoughts and passing ideas and put them into a place where I can access them for future use.  I can see how to link people into subjects for paintings, I can understand more than just what is said - I can understand what is underneath the words (not with everyone, only sometimes.  Not quite Dalai Lama yet);  if my mind is clear and I am not heavy and feeling dull , those wonderful thoughts, ideas and inspirations can dance and fly and skim the surface with a freedom that is wonderful to watch.  Dancing like dragonflies, dancing together and allowing me to be filled with possibilities, with inspiration, with excitement. 

I have just spoken to the Glorious Clarissa and mentioned thoughts skimming the surface, and Clarissa said her thoughts are inside her head, not outside.  How Glorious, I said.  And, she said, they are sometimes, occasionally, very clear and ordered.  The rest of the time they are jumbled.  But, she says, such is life.  She is very happy to have clarity when it comes and accepts the muddle when it takes over.  I see Clarissa as not muddled though, which makes our perception of our own thoughts very interesting. 

 My thoughts, I told Clarissa, are not really Dragonflies.  I used Dragonflies because it sounds poetic.  Actually, I told Clarissa, what I really want to say is that my thoughts (bless them) are like Daddy Long Legs all skittering about, light and buzzing, with their legs all in knots and bouncing off trees.  Put that in, said Clarissa, Tell the truth.  So here goes.

My thoughts are hovering, gentle and spindly, light and carried on the wind but alive and following a purpose that only they know of, like Daddy Long Legs flitting and skimming a summer pond.  With their legs all tied up in knots and bouncing off trees and each other without damage.  Even when their legs get tangled and they move around as a single unit, buzzing contentedly until either the legs fall off or they pull apart.

Here are a few thoughts from yesterday.  These are based on the Daddy Long Legs flitting over a deep meaningful pool of stillness etc etc.  It is fast turning into a scene from a Disney film. 
  • Yesterday sitting in my studio, I heard a scratching and rustling from behind my chair.  Yikes I thought it is one of those spiders from abroad, that eats birds.  But when I turned to take a look, it was a small brown bird, hopping about in confusion by the door, looking desperately fragile and panicky.  I opened the doors for it to find its way out.  I was aware that it's life was at once very robust to live out in the open in trees, sky etc, but also so terribly fine as it could have died of fright, had I approached it.  Hmmm.  A flitting Daddy Long Legs of Awareness skimmed my pool.  (Honest.)
  • I came back from Dublin having been with two of my oldest friends.  Yesterday, another friend from those times called, quite by chance, for an hour and a half.  I have not seen this friend for over 20 years, yet we were inseperable at Aberdeen when at university there.  She is a fey, winsome, reclusive person, full to the brim of thoughts and creativity and yet never wanting nor able to live in the same day  to day world as we all do.  I drew and painted her endlessly, she was my muse.  The only person to ever have been a muse in my life; and here she was, on the phone.  I am longing to draw her again, if I can entice her to leave her flat and come here for a day.  Later, my old pal Michael called.  If he is happy to chat, he can be fascinating and curiously old fashioned.  Last night he talked of nature and geology and C S Lewis.  After these two calls, I thought - how wonderful is the influence of People.  I felt a largeness in my life, as if knowing such friends made me bigger somehow.  No, not fatter.  My friends do not make me Porky.
  • In my garden, I have some magenta peonies.  Blimey, I thought recently, they are so wonderful that I will think very carefully to recreate the influence that they have on me, in the studio. Stagger stagger flit flit go the spindly thought insects across the pond etc.
  • And finally, for today, the final Dragonfly cum Daddy Long Legs that dances like a sunbeam on my clean and clear pond of a mind under the willow trees and Disney wood sprites: I am not busting a bloodvessel to get my painting done, whereas before the Fund Raising Weekend (Fairies, Angels, Earrings and Cakes) I was.  There is time in my day.  I am getting things done, with time to spare.  So what is this?  Is all work a state of mind?  Is all progress a state of mind?  The same things are being achieved  this week as before the Fund Raising Weekend, except I am freer and more calm.  Oh this is a big thought.  It will have to be characterised by a large jumpy frog.  Skittish insects don't have the gravitas.
There is another thought with which to end.  Do frogs have gravitas?

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