A new year, a clean sheet of paper.

Contemplation webContemplation, pencil on pastel paper, 2013

There is nothing quite like a fresh start, a clean slate.  From the artistic point of view, some folk are intimidated by a blank sheet.  What Earnest Hemingway called the White Bull, the blank page.  When I teach art it is a recurring problem, students saying, “but it doesn’t look right.”  When I look at their work, there is nothing wrong, except for the simple fact they have not coloured the page and the white of the paper glares out at them.  There was an American TV artist of the 1970’s, a lady called Nancy Kominsky, a great inspiration to me for her flamboyant use of the pallet knife for applying oil paint.  Yet as skilled as she was, she had a dislike of stark white canvas and used to stain it with a thin mix of burnt umber ant turpentine, just to get rid of the white.

As for myself, to be the first to put a mark on a clean blank page is a glorious thing. I love a pure white virginal sheet, a myriad of possibilities stretching before me.  The joy of starting a new project seems to renew my love of art.  There is an overwhelming feeling of optimism; will this be the best work I have ever done?  Will this be the pinnacle of my achievement?  And the heady mix of both wanting it to be, and not wanting to be, because if it was the pinnacle there is nowhere to go from there but down.  Even with that mix I know that the next crisp white sheet will renew my optimism.

Outside the Menier Gallery with fellow artist Paul Ballard

Outside the Menier Gallery with fellow artist Paul Ballard

I feel likewise with the New Year ahead.  The new sheet of the year spreads before me.  Already the folder marked 2013 has a new picture in it and I contemplate my next project.  This week I set up for the first exhibition of the year, The Beauty of Women, a Guild of Erotic Artists exhibition at the Menier  Gallery in South London, running until 19th January.  Two more exhibitions are planned for March and a smattering of exhibitions spread before me over the year.  A book I have been working on for over four years is coming to its finish, and publication is very soon.  Though already scribbled on, the new sheet of this New Year still gleams with the promise of this being my best artistic year ever and at the same time I still feel there is more to follow next year…

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