Lately I have been placing my paintings in spaces. I have always been obsessed with the environmental and atmospheric surrounds in which we exist. Paintings sit on the wall, writing on the page or device, and music in between the walls. As a kid, I would compulsively change my furniture around to create a different room. Crazily enough, I still do something similar in painting and in rearranging rooms. We don’t really change that much from kidhood, do we? There are just more layers now. These layers get contained in new rooms, new paintings, new books. Here are a few examples of imagined spaces.
As you know, my Lake is my temple. Isn’t it obviously sacred?
Another interesting way of doing self-portraits (or portraits generally, for that matter) is to focus on the home space, the studio space or the work space. The idea is earth-shatteringly simple: the places we inhabit most of the time contain a part of our essence and act like mirrors that reflect the bigger question of True Identity. For example, there are two places excluding work that I inhabit and feel like they reflect back at me my own identity. These places are overflowing with the “you” : the home, including my main studio (or creative work space) and what I call the Retreat (and a 2nd less used studio hidden in the bush)
The Retreat is a hinterland block of forested acreage with an unusually designed abode that was built by a sculptor influenced by Spanish, Israeli and Moroccan architecture. It’s a place I one day hope to open up to young artists and writers to allow them a magical escape from the world we live in (and through), the world of the angry, lost, envious, egotistical, broken-hearted, shallow, unwell, cynical and misanthropic. This is the world we can all relate to and are actively part of. The world of depression, grief and loss, trauma and myriad forms of suffering. Ugliness too.
So as a form of portraiture and as a form of journal-keeping, you can consider certain spaces as self-reflecting. Within these spaces of architectural presence, some rooms correspond to the inner-most sense of self you can possess.
Spaces are not what the real estate agent tells you they are, or what the bank uses to estimate your net worth. These spaces are the fundamental environment of your journey through the world. It takes time to stop and see them properly though. Just as it takes time to stop and see your Self after a self-portrait or a portrait by another. The unifying element is the worthiness of stopping and seeing. And appreciating.
Having lived in the city all my life, and having experienced the archetypal cities of the world while travelling, I have found that my favourite creative space is one close to nature. I have even noticed how the work I do out of my city studio is different to that done in the Retreat House. My dream is to one day allow access to my Retreat House (under some kind of arrangement) to emerging artists. There is something in the peace and the sounds of nature especially as the sun sets or as the sun rises, that is great for the creative soul.
I wish there was more research and seriousness about the healing quality of our living and working spaces. This is a painting of mine hanging in a waiting room for psychiatrists and psychologists. The painting was meant to epitomise peace and healing: blue, ocean-floor formations that suggest rest and the Quiet.