I had visions at the start of the year of a nice ordered life.. the miracle of scoring a medical certificate to study part time would banish my weekly migraines and I'd be able to do 4 hours light academic reading a day - plus 2-3 days per week productive writing, and then 2-3 days doing nice oil paintings in my studio.
Well that was overly optimistic of course.
Up until about 3 weeks ago I was spending about 10-20 hours per week on the verge or in the grip of serotonin overload - and in foetal doona crawl.(I kid you not - You know all that time that most people spend watching TV, going to the cinema, going to pubs, hanging out on the phone, or hanging out? I spend it alone in bed, ears plugged, body drugged feeling like total hell......)
This is so tedious and unpleasant I don't even want to think about it and can't bear to write about it - and the main result of this is that when I don't feel like hacking my head off wiht an axe - I rush around madly trying to catch up on the life I've missed. this probably sets more migraines off ....... oh god .........................
Anyway In the rushing time I've realised that I do veer crazily between writing or painting. Alhtough I do 3 hours life drawing EVERY week, (plus the odd excusion ot the park to draw dogs) it takes DAYS for me to settle into painting mode - and then I'm in hell world - kinda. When I do tiny bits of painting I feel almost physically sick that I can't do more - so I'm grumpy. Then the first day - I'm happily mixing stuff up and splashing colour on about 5-10 different canvases (ADHD is a real plus for some occupations) and floating along........and feeling more alive than I ahve in weeks. From here I can either go into serious obsessive mode where i forget how to speak and eat like an oaf and abandon all bodily hygeine ......... (pretty much like most students when cranking out essays/papers/chapters - you eat/sleep/shit according to the routine of the writing......)......
or into the other state that I'm in now. Every brush mark sucks. Dribble a bit here. Decide to give up. then work on another bit. Then get really involved. Then realise its all crap. then dribble a bit somewhere else. keep plodding on. This is very similar to writing I guess. There are the fiery brilliant fierce flowing days and then the s ......l......o.......w....... stodgy hell of blank brainitis. Hell on wheels - and both are necessary.
I thought that I'm my slow studio days - I could escape the studio and go back to words, or on weeks/days of extreme intellectual block I could run away and splash about with paint.
I had a bad writing block late last year, and couldn't paitn either.
Now I frantically want to do both.
I pick up a brush and words flod my head.
I pick up a book and clours swim in front of me.
The sludge time can't really be escaped - I have to plough through it whatever medium I'm in, its like waiting for water to boil......... or I should think of something more poetic and alchemical.
Abel has just cooked a seafood feast of smoked mackeral and scampi. Neighbours have brought champaigne (OK Ozzie sparkling White). Laughter drifts up form downstairs. I want to join them. I also want to write. to find the words to trace the odd feelings I've had today.
Eyes open. PAinting. Not seeing what I'm painting. Then I see what I'm painting. I feel sick. think of Butler's words. Why do these images haunt me? why do I paint them? Aren't I aesthetisizing them? fetishizing them. The rubens transcription, gloriously glory as it is is a reminder - I am not the first. My metier is gounded in a horrible ambivalence - and Rubens, Goya, Rembrandt, Turner, Monet, Picasso - all knew it (I sound like such a wanker comparing myself to the canon of old masters - but I try to qualify this - I read the paintings of old dead men - like I read the words of philosophers and novelists - their works are a record of communication in a language that I am part of - so of course I see myself reflected in them.......). SO look at Rubens. Have ccourage. think of Picasso and Guernica. Mixup more beige, kmore grey. Laugh at Serge Gainsbourgh's version of "Mon Legionnaire" (that man has a the voice of the butter in LAst Tango in PAris). Keep ploughin on. Drag in some raw umber. No burnt umber. I want pink. No pink. I'm painting monsters.
After this. I crash into bed. Temples throbbing as I pore over some boring computer catalogue. swithc the brain off. Sleep. After leaving the stduio, my back aches, my hands ache, my head throbs. I'm exhausted. this is life.
Drawing in Palliative Care
4 days ago