Saturday, 31 January 2009

An end of January recap: organising, notetaking and subject matter

I am trying to get to grips with a number of different strands here right now, and I don't think I'm managing too well. Too many other things are calling for my attention and while I've so far been rather good at avoiding nasty winter illnesses, a tonsilitis rather effectively floored me for the past week. The throat is no longer sore, but... wow, I had never noticed just how tiring a trip to the post office can be (well, that 100 metres to and back).

In any case: enough late January winging
[hahaha... whingeing is of course what I meant;
what a nice buckage* I produced at the end of this month]

  • Linocut printmaking
  • Colour, marks and general influences in Wolf Kahn's use of pastels
  • The facilitation workshop, specifically: production of knowledge

For most of these, the scenes are set: it'll be about the pondtreedarkwinterreflections that have come out of the visit to the bull's hollow. I'm very happy to stick with these scenes (two or three) at the moment and keep working with them.

Sticking with a couple of compositions that work well and keep intriguing me usually seems like a good idea. It kind of does away with the need to sort a composition for each new piece and allows instead for some more systematic - and yet at the same time: more playful? - exploration of media, colours, marks and all the other stuff around them.

The pond reflections in some sense feel like an easy option: I am painting stuff I've known for so long again. I keep thinking around this one, and whether it actually matters? Oh, well, yes it matters quite centrally. I think one of the things from last year I learned was the dynamic and energy I got from painting something known and familiar. From taking it from something known and familiar and slowly, patiently letting it go elsewhere; in part wilfully - and, dear, did I try to push those fields to transform and become something new from all that was old.

Over Christmas, I realised that there is almost endless possibility in continuing with that. And how enjoyable that is: take something that was taken for granted and let it go, run with it, see where it takes you and it may surprise you. It's like Benjamin's sock: where does observation turns to narration, poetry; where do past facts turn to memory and the making and invention of selves, a history that is imagined and yet filled with so much memory at the same time.

This all provides a little bridge across to the facilitation workshop again: and the questions it posed for me about different types of knowledge and understanding; and the realisation just how much I've learned and begun to understand through painting.

Relatedly, I've changed my writing and recording arrangements. A new laptop allows me sitting on the sofa while blogging... does it show in a sitting-on-the-sofa-chattiness? Similarly, I have finally taken the digital recorder I bought for work and interviewing home with me and am experimenting with recording notes and thoughts verbally, rather than in writing.

I am used to take a lot of notes in writing, either longhand or in the computer. But most often, the reason something doesn't get recorded is that I can't be bothered to type/write yet more again. So, I am curious whether having spoken files will see to that in some sense. Generally, I think I am someone whose thoughts and arguments are becoming much more quickly much clearer in conversation, when spoken. It's quite often at those moments that I feel something coming together. So, maybe I should just organise the 'talking to myself' element of that.

And: if it's noted, I can chuck it out of my mind, I no longer have to keep thinking about it in worry that I may forget. So, Folder A on my rather impressive Olympus recorder has various thoughts on labour politics on it, notably (a) the wildcat strikes at UK refineries against the use of foreign workers; (b) comments on an article on Rosa Luxemburg, experience and organisation, and (c) notes from the class I taught on Wednesday where we discussed the end of career.

Well, this post was supposed to be on some earlier experiments with pastels on dark paper. Have a taster of these. I think they will be on show tomorrow.

Pond reflections on darkness
Pond reflection on darkness #1
Soft pastel on board

* buckage, n. , first usage c2001; denotes the wilful combination of two unrelated words into a new creation; usually based on some metaphorically imagery employed by Gesa Helms, etymological origin: a combination of the English nouns bucket and luggage for a bucket full of unnecessary luggage that one carries around.
Does that sound about right, P.?


vivien said...

oh this is looking interesting :>)

I think revisiting the familiar and exploring thoughts and options can lead on to some really varied ideas. When something is new we can be too hung up on getting to know it as it is before getting to the experimental stage.

Jeanette said...

I love your experiments with colour and reflections. The last piece is just so appealing.

Gesa said...

:) Thank you!

Yes, that's quite a good way of putting it, Vivien... the 'getting to know you' bit standing in the way. It's an interesting tension that the familiarity sets up: it's a comfort and a challenge at the same time.

And I keep thinking about something that Jeanette said early on in response to my scary place memories: that it is those kind of experiences that allow us to make.... hm, groping for words... meaningful?... good?... possibly: involved... pieces of art.

Am sticking with the eeriness for a while though. Exploring a different palette (high chroma, cool hues) is a good challenge for that... not to get overwhelmed with familiarity.