About once a month I go paint at the
jewish old age home in Sydney
and I often land up in the ward for the
severely demented… its always an experience
these folks… have been fortunate enough
to have most of the absurd social niceties stripped
away and are free..
to terrorise a painter
which they do
me: what shall I paint?
Marge: ‘two girls”
‘ok’.. says the gung-ho artist
I put down a thick layer of white oil..
and start.. but the girls are not interested in
showing up in the painting…
Marge.. the devil.. who paints too.. by the way
‘That’s terrible..!” she suggests
‘Needs colour.! Yellow!
“Too much colour”
I felt well and truly decimated as the two girls on the canvas morphed in to wretched old hags on the board I was painting on…
I announced at my Flogging.. that I come here to have my skin thickened.. thank God.. she (and the gathering geriatric crowd) found that funny..
Anyway… I thanked Marge.. sincerely…. for playing her valuable part in my life’s story… and by the end of it we were fast friends.. she even took me to her room and showed me her paintings.. and gave me a photo of her holding a painting…
the authorities made me return it.. saying she may regret it in the morning.. –
note added in proof:
the power of painting this way:
for much of the time the painting was a humiliating experience…
‘hu·mil·i·at·ing [hyoo-mil-ee-ey-ting or, often, yoo-]
lowering the pride, self-respect, or dignity of a person; mortifying: Such a humiliating defeat was good for his overblown ego.
but what is fascinating about painting in this way… is what enters the painting/.
wanted to paint two girls floating over a city… whimsical and light.. but due to the experience.. they morphed into 2 hags… heavy over the city… their faces covered by their hands… as in hiding from being seen… feeling awkward.. up there / out there / exposed like that… that is the power that underlies and is within us all.. we are an identity – as we define ourselves – on the surface.. but at play… beneath.. our brain is reliving and ‘explaining’ the situation at a layer probably just underneath.. just out of sight of the layer on top.… the only person I cant get away from is myself and it is good to have it concretized like this on the painting…