The temperature of the wind today is a bitter northerly, quite a shock after all the warm weather we've had recently. This morning I spent a very unusual amount of time cleaning and washing. I decided to wash all the beautiful glass pieces that are on display in the kitchen, which includes hand blown coloured glasses and candlesticks made in Ireland. This is an extremely unusual activity for me but I felt marginally pleased at the sparkling results. As I did this I was reminded of my other Nana, Lilian Collins, whose house was far more than spotless. She cleaned her huge brass collection once a week and I likened her kitchen to a laboratory as here every surface was gleaming and there was never anything out on display. The kettle was simmering on the stove all day long just incase anyone called in.
After the mammoth cleaning spree I was able to settle to some painting and finished the picture shown here. I had been waiting for many weeks to resolve this piece. Other than that I struggled with several other paintings and had to leave them alone until another day. Later on I read a very interesting piece about the artist Helen Frankenthaler, who has been a big influence on my work. She was an important female American, Abstract Expressionist artist who pushed painting into new places. I have responded to her painting as it speaks to me in a way that I understand. She focused on the relationship between colour and space - something that has always interested me. I have read very little about her until today as I have preferred just to look at her paintings. The article is called "How to be an Artist" and her first piece of advice is to experiment. When I'm teaching, the main piece of advice I give to students is to experiment. She advocated trying different mediums and worked with printmaking, tapestry, set design and ceramics, but remained primarily a painter. Lastly she advises "Let mistakes lead to invention". She believed that the mistakes she made in a painting could usually be "redeemed" and that she could "retrieve" the painting. This way of working is very familiar to me where often I feel I have lost a painting only to work into it and give it a new lease of life.