I started painting


After my big paint supply shop a couple or three weeks ago, there has been a great deal of limbering up.

I had wondered how I might break through into making some marks after such a long break… and when Helen Lopez  was visiting the other week, she suggested just doing colour experiments to get a feel for the paint, and see how that came out. That sounded like good advice, and given that she has actually taught painting I reckoned on it being a tested method and a great way to learn about a new (to me) medium. (Acrylics have changed a lot since I abandoned them for favour of oil, and there’s a learning curve ahead of me.)

Then I got inspiration from  this poem, Oubilette from Out of True by Amy Durant of lucysfootball fame. In the poem she writes about obliterating unwanted people from her past;

I can’t catch up on something I don’t have. I spent
a long time putting them all behind me.
There is no catching up to do. I have forgotten
their names and their faces; there is nothing left
of them inside of me except what they did to me,
the scars they left, the traps they set that I seem to
stupidly trip with every misstep.

and I recognized the feeling… For me, it’s not just people, it’s events, it’s my own actions and my own weaknesses. It’s my relationship with the restrictions of my illness, life regrets, a disconnect from my past art work, all sorts of things. I, too, wanted to put the past behind me and insist on the present. I grabbed a sketchbook from 2003 in which I had written and I began to paint.

a kind of ‘palimpsest’ after ‘oubilette’ by amy durant. elaine axten 2003-2012

There’s another thing. When I was a young thing at art school a preferred method was to draw, then tear out whatever passage in the drawing was working for me, glue it onto a new sheet and carry on working. I had been wondering exactly what to do with old work. I don’t want to keep it, and it doesn’t reflect who I am now. My plan had been to simply document and dump, but there’s a third way – cannibalize what can be used, paint over the pain. obliterate the clinging past. Acknowledging that the past exists, but insisting on the present day. Insisting on not telling the sad old stories over again. Creating a kind of palimpsestic form and letting the past peek through, but not letting it dominate.

There we have it, then. Here is the first image I have made in what turns out to have been six years – i just googled my last exhibition, and it was Silly Cow in 2006. Even that more recent work is worlds away from who I am and what I want to do now.

In short? GAME ON!