(I just want to breathe) Fresh Air
I initially called this painting Fresh Air but the idea for it began while I was immersed in producing one of my location pieces and I felt I needed to indicate the painting’s polemical origins so expanded the title.
Thoughts drift into my head after the first effort of concentration that begins a painting outdoors. Its one of the things that happens when I’m surrounded by trees, nettles, flowering plants, seed heads lichen, mosses and water. Ideas on why the natural world is so important to me, and by extension to all of us, are never far from my mind. Perhaps the radio news had informed me of another man made disaster, the pollution of a water course, disappearance of a glacier; perhaps there had been another representative of a vested interest denying global climate change, whatever the stimulus, I was mulling it over. May be climate change is not caused by industrial pollutants, may be we can’t organise our lives without traveling or moving goods around, the bottom line is that there are forces detrimentally affecting our environment. Even if we don’t value other species that share the planet or the plants that grow under our feet, we should at least understand and appreciate that we are affected. Should we put up with increasing levels of respiratory disorders or carcinogens being pumped into our air so that industry can continue to make high profits and its captains be paid extremely high levels of remuneration, don’t I simply have a right to be able to breathe fresh air?
That was the thought and it stuck with me so I had to work out how to paint it. I wanted to make the idea tangible. Trees link the earth with the sky, drawing nutrients from the soil and pumping oxygen into the air for us to breathe. I decided to start painting like a doodle and allow it to grow using the colour palette from one of my location paintings. I hit upon the idea of using a single type of stroke which would be the DNA of the painting, a curve with a curved branch. As the painting continued over 3 months or so I incorporated more overlays of ideas, the swirls became like tangled undergrowth over the ‘ground’ and they also reminded me of the alveoli of lungs.
The final form of the painting was far removed from anything I’ve previously done and I was very nervous about showing it to anyone. Which is why I had to exhibit it.