Painting in my studio at night
During this night at around 12 midnight an incredibly strong wind started. The oak trees above my studio thrashed about so much that small branches fell on my corrugated roof. I thought it had begun to rain and went outside to gather up cushions and mattresses lying scattered around the garden. This hot wind stopped as fast as it had started and after my retrieving task, I returned back to the studio.
As soon as I entered my shack of a painting room I saw it was full of clouds of buzzing insects and fluttering moths of all colours, driven in by the breeze. It reminded me of my childhood, when insects were a summer phenomenon and a fact of life, but since then a rarer and rarer occurrence, so that now their fragile bodies are no longer spotted all over the car windscreen, front lights and bumper. As I continue now to struggle with this stubborn painting at 3:20 am, I paint with this company of creatures, fussing around the strip lights, becoming trapped in what’s left of my hair, and even crawling around my shirt under my mechanic’s discarded overalls which I wear when I know there is going to be a lot of paint flying about in desperation at trying to beat a picture into submission. And this painting is being particularly bolshy and I have painted it over and over like the Forth Road Bridge.
I feel happy though amongst my fellow night animals, two owls very noisy outside and close by, trying to drown out sad beautiful Primo Levi on the radio. It is a rare treat of an invasion, vainly trying to stop them getting caught in the sticky surface of my canvas. It reminds me of a description by the glorious Roger Deakin of his house in East Anglia being open to all animals and creepy-crawlies, wanting to make their homes amongst his clobber. After days of heat and stillness, it’s all about to break. I hope I’ll be up when the first raindrops hit the roof and I can walk back to bed getting wet. I hope too by then this painting might give in and actually start telling me what to do.