Some nice things to start the day
- My nails are a bright pillar box red. This is good because when you get bored talking to me you can follow the swish and flash of my nails as my hands emphasise my words.
- There was evidence in the kitchen this morning of the lodgers cooking. This is good because I worry that they are not eating properly, and may die of eating junk food and sweets in my house.
- I have tied up my hollyhocks in the front garden so that you won't be brained by them as you pass in a slight breeze. They are very aggressive.
- I have started a savings account to go and visit Eileen in Tanzania, and I have over £5 in there now.
- Someone wrote that that the state of limbo that they struggled with, was really a state of grace. That is a lovely thing to write.
- I have been painting three figures on three very small canvases and they are still barely more than outlines, which is good, because that is how they feel. This is quite liberating.
- I have tried other teas, but Tetley is still my favourite. I have done my homework, and now I can relax. I have a pot beside me now, it's good to have played the field but even better to come back to the one I started with.
My uncle speaks softly, not always very clearly, and has survived enormous crises with his health. I do not know him well, though I have always liked him. We sat opposite each other over our pizzas and talked of Rembrandt. Perhaps I imagined it, but when he described Rembrandt and the effect the old Dutch masters had on him, for a moment, two or three times, he seemed overwhelmed by emotion and on the verge of tears. It was fleeting and powerful; I was incredibly moved by the effect that this Dutch Old Master had on a private and undemonstrative old man, my uncle, who I knew but did not really know despite a lifetime of connection through family. I am not, he said, ambitious, nor have I ever been. I regret that, he said. But I disagreed, and told him so. You are, I said, ambitious for the things of the soul. I learned during lunch at Pizza Express, with my uncle by marriage, in his pyjamas and in his nineties, about the power of art and the joy of response to beauty. I saw how painting can move the viewer, and that viewer can be anyone; how that viewer holds the experience deep inside for years, and how the pleasure can remain and grow over time to a point where it moves you greatly to think of it, perhaps even to tears. I cannot remember what my uncle said about Rembrandt, that is not important. I remember wanting to go home and look at all the Rembrandt paintings I could find, to capture their power and beauty, to find for myself a little of the magic. I know my uncle will be going to the National Gallery Rembrandt: the Late Works exhibition in October. Perhaps I will see him there.
|I painted John Horne here for A Graceful Death, using the browns and warm tones of Rembrandt. Were he alive, Rembrandt may have disputed this and told me to get a life.|
I note, with tears in my own eyes, that it is nearly 4pm and time for some more tea. This moves me, as Rembrandt did my uncle, to extraordinary heights of happiness. Giant Boy is practising his piano and talking at me with no need of a response, none of the lodgers are dying of hunger, and all is well. The sun is shining through the rain clouds, and the hollyhocks are bobbing in their restraints without leaving any marks on anyone, all is as it should be. I have not written of any work I am doing, that will come in time. I have taken time off and away from work, and quite beyond my expectations, I am still alive and the world has not ended. In fact, no one at all has noticed. Just because, said my friend kindly a day or so ago, you are not painting, it does not mean you are not an artist. Yes it does, said Giant Boy.
|My aunt, my father and my uncle. If Rembrandt could have taken a photo of a domestic scene instead of painting it, this may be it.|