Monday 27 February 2012

The wonderful Winterson once again.

(new work in oil, gold leaf and cold wax on wood panel 50cm x 50cm)

This is not the first time I've quoted writer Jeanette Winterson on my blog.  She manages to express thoughts in such a beautifully clear, succinct, and often brutally honest way.

This past Friday, she participated in a one hour live webchat with the Books section of the Guardian online.  The conversation can be found here.

One of Winterson's comments particularly struck me:

"Life has an inside as well as an outside.  Consumer culture directs all resources and attention to life on the outside.  What happens to the inner life?  Art is never a luxury because it stimulates and responds to the inner life.  We are badly out of balance.  I don't think of art / creativity as a substitute for anything else.  I see it as a powerful expression of our humanity - and on the side of humanity under threat.  If we say art is a luxury, we might as well say that being human is a luxury."

Wish I could have put it so well when I've met people who think of art / creativity as a frivolous, indulgent pursuit.


  1. Beautiful painting.
    Powerful words.
    Thank You.

  2. I've heard of Ms. W, but never read any of her books. No doubt she's a thoughtful & soulful speaker. Thanks for sharing her words about art.

    I love the details of your painting - it definitely would be nice to have some time up close and personal for my viewing pleasure - a very subtle range of color. I do like grey, g-r-e-y-s, and (of course) your sense of style.

  3. Thank you, Sharon!

    It's spot on, isn't it, Valerianna.

    Thanks, Jan. I keep coming upon quotes by Ms. W and they almost always stop me in my tracks one way or another.

    And you're right about getting close to the painting - these ones, with the cold wax, need good light and to be seen fairly close up. The great thing about the wax is that it allows for a translucence and for multiple layers to live one on top of another, which can only really be seen up close and in person. Have you ever tried that medium?

    1. No, I've never tried that medium Lynn. Wouldn't it be great if I could visit you to get an on-the-spot tutorial?!! But then another idea is that you go one-by-one (step-wise) through your process with us here.

      Is your style encaustic? I only recently learned that word, but I love how it bounces and balances on the tongue. Mysterious and layered.

      Oh, and by-the-by, my sweetie-pie* will be starting a new site called 'Gallery Schmallery' in the near future. And at that site he will feature art that is affordable and that he feels needs showcasing. Don't know if your art and his idea will be a fit, but I plan to keep you posted with updates. I like things like this that have a potential six degrees of separation feel to them.

      You are - truly - one of my favorite artists! Soooo, keep up the great work!

    2. That would be fun, Jan. I think I'll take your suggestion and go step by step through a painting here. I've always found it so helpful when artists give technical step by steps on the internet.

      No, it's not encaustic. That's an ages old (believe it goes back to ancient Greece) technique which involves mixing melted beeswax with colour pigment powders. These harden when placed on a support, but can be heated again for further manipulation. I've only tried it a couple of times, years ago, and it's really satisfying, but really difficult. I don't have enough space in my room now to try it - maybe some day. It is a beautiful word, isn't it. I believe it means "to be burned on"...something like that.

      What I use is made from four types of wax (beeswax being only a small component), damar resin, and mineral spirits. I add it to mixed oil paints from the tube and with powdered pigments. It gives a depth to a painting, and it allows for the surface layers to be scratched easily, revealing the layers beneath.

      Let me know what happens with the gallery. Good luck with it!

      Thank you for the compliment! Do check out Rebecca Crowell's website. She also uses oil and cold wax and her work is amazing.

  4. that is so well put!
    it's the first thing to go when the money is tight. they close our libraries and galleries.

  5. What a wonderful thought provoking quote on what is art and what makes us human-- which is art-- full circle.

  6. It is so frustratingly true, Monica. Don't know when those in power will ever learn.

    Yes, Donna. Full circle!

  7. Lynn, The painting is very strong and I love the gold square which is so simple yet contained in the painting and surrounded by grey. It is like a little ray of golden light!
    Wonderful and interesting words about art. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Thanks, Jo. I've been playing with gold leaf in a few paintings - I had no idea it was so tricky to work with - it practically turns to powder with the slightest pressure. There's something archaic about gold - and I wanted to add a bit of that - associations with ancient cultures like Egyptian and Mycenaean; as well as with Mediaeval illuminated manuscripts.

  9. It is a very powerful piece of writing and really makes you think. As we we're in town yesterday I wandered around, I felt like I wanted to be home and drawing. Normally Saturday was my walk day on the shore, where I feel more at home than shops.
    Your painting has lovely colours and qualities, reminds me of old doors on long forgotten buildings. The little hint of gold like a lost coin, gives the painting such interest.
    Loved the organ grinder, how lovely , I could almost imagine the sounds drifting though the window.

  10. I do love her quote... and your new work is wonderful

  11. Thanks Milly and Donna.

    It's always interesting to read what Ms. Winterson has to say on any topic. She always writes with such passion and conviction.

    I'm always happy to hear the associations that people have with my abstract pieces, Milly. As a bit of a background theme - or rather thought - was a newer translation of the "Arabian Nights" which I've been dipping into the past few months. Old buildings, peeling paint, the colours and sounds and smells of the market, the night sky... and I love the idea of a "lost coin."

  12. Wonderful new work, and great quote. I am going to pass it along. I hope you don't mind.

    I myself am out of balance for just that reason, so the quote really hits home.

    1. I just saw your comment, Leslie, so sorry it slipped by me earlier!
      Thank you! And I'm so glad you enjoyed the quote - that's certainly one to pass along!

  13. I've really enjoyed browsing through your blog. This painting immediately caught my attention and the quote is just perfect. Thanks Lynn!

    1. Thank you so much, Robyn!
      Winterson has a way of hitting the nail right on the head.

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