Space is something that I think about a lot. From space in a landscape when I’m painting outside, to space indoors, to little objects on a shelf, to my own psychological space and how I’m experiencing that in the moment.
I wonder about how I interact with space as a painter? I ask myself ‘How do I experience the space that I’m looking at? Is it the proximity or distance of forms to each other that catch my attention? How is the fall of light shaping that space and what body sensations am I experiencing in response? Does the air feel thick or light? Are these sensations calling up a memory or dream?’ These are all questions that go beyond the intellectualisation of space as something outside of me. I bring the observation back to my experience as my awareness ducks and weaves. Having an awareness of what I’m experiencing is crucial to me as an artist. I have to be clear to paint it.
It seems to me that space is not empty, but rather full of potential. I often skip over this potential in my busy everyday life of things and tasks. The world of concrete objects. To become aware of space I have to stop and dream.
Clouds and the wind have helped me a lot. It’s why I enjoy painting them so much. And eucalyptus trees with their gangly, meandering limbs; their clumps of sparse leaves mingling with the sky. The air within the fluid space of a eucalyptus is a comforting inspiration to open up and breathe. I paint outside to breathe and let nature seep into my dreams.
In my studio it’s the shape, colour and proximity of objects that lead me into the intimate quiet spaces of a still life. Not much moves in these set ups. Eventually cut flowers and fruit dry up and succumb to gravity. On another timeline, the glass bottles are also heading in the same direction. Down. Space is fluid with time.
I recently attended a life painting workshop with Rob Gutteridge, a figure painter teaching a classical tradition. Rob places an emphasis on the anatomical structure within form. What fascinated me was the fine edge between anatomical knowledge and imagination. We imagine what is underneath skin that creates the shapes and planes of a human being. The directional fall of light helps us in this discovery of 3 dimensional form before it falls into the ambiguity of shadow. The experience of space is an interior one of bones, muscles and tendons, entered through the doorway of imagination, while observation hovers outside. Awareness mediates the border of skin to create the illusion of form.
During this workshop, I got to know our model Maryanne as a human being with a history. I was drawn into a space for relationship. In that moment I remembered myself looking into a mirror. Awareness is like a rubber band that can be pulled in different directions of potential. A moment can be a lifetime. I want to share this video with you because it’s a very big stretch. After you view it, stop for a moment and notice the space you are experiencing.
The featured image is titles PAIRS. It’s a play on ‘smoke and mirrors’ to create illusion. It’s also a meditation on relationship.
Thanks for reading. Warmly Lynn
Oil painting on linen
30cm x 30cm
Available through the Lethbridge Gallery, Brisbane
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