Looking at this painting sketch I am reminded of Joan Mitchell. In many of her works you will find a central trunk like form and growing out from this limbs of paint that are comparable to the boughs of a tree.
Consider for example Bracket (by Joan Mitchell, 1989). Prudence Peiffer describes this set of relationships and their effect aptly as ‘like a top, these vertical lines centre the work’s spin’* and Joan Mitchell herself talks of a plumb line. ‘I want them to hold one image ‘ she said, ‘despite all the activity. It’s a kind of plumb line dancers have’**
Image 1: Untitled by Joy C Martindale (April 2021), 36x26cm
Image 2: Brackett (1989) Oil on canvas by Joan Mitchell, Image sourced from joanmitchellfoundation.org
Images 3,4,5 and 6 pages from Joan Mitchell, Selected Paintings, The Presence of an Absence, Essay by Nathan Kernan, Cheim and Read, New York 2002
My children have just discovered The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I felt happy when I laughed myself into hysterics at a funny scene. Does that count?
I felt happy yesterday when I was on a train reading a magazine. I was reading that visitors to the artist Lala Rukh’s house were greeted by ‘two unmistakable seasonal smells: in winter, log-fire smoke and in summer, jasmine and lime wafting in from the garden.’* One sentence was enough to transport me there. The feeling of happiness that came with it was strong but momentary, does that count? In this strange and unsettling time, which has impacted on every aspect of our lives, I think it has to.
I think it is possible to equate positive emotional experiences – those little, everyday mood boosting moments that bring us joy – to happiness. Before the pandemic, perhaps happiness was something that shined with promise on the horizon; a state of being that could be obtained if we worked hard enough for it, but now when the future has become an unknown quantity and our focus has been pulled up short, it is our day-to-day experiences that we feel most acutely attuned to. With this has come a greater awareness of our moods and the fleetingness of them. Think of all the moods you can be in all in one day – an anxious mood, a sad mood, an angry mood, a calm mood, a dreamy mood and so on. Something positive that can come out of this imposed day-to-day existence could be the realisation that if we can let go of the pursuit of happiness as a panacea, we may become more open to acknowledging those nuggets of happiness we are already experiencing in our everyday lives.
So, even when we might feel sad, lonely, anxious or unhappy as we have probably all felt at some point during the pandemic, it is possible to experience happiness as part of these emotional experiences too.
More reading: Dr Daisy Fancourt and Research Fellow Alex Bradbury (UCL Epidemiology & Health) have tracked the everyday experiences of 70,000 people asking them each week how they are feeling.
In my current practice I am exploring the act of making art as a liberating gesture. The title ‘Sing To Me‘ refers to the essential escapism music has provided me during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The various positive sensations of pleasure, calm, elation and catharsis listening to music gives me, as I paint and draw in my studio collide and combine with all the other sensations I am experiencing at that moment and are translated directly into my painting. From music – to my body and mind’s response – to the painting, to the viewer experiencing the work, is a chain of sensations. These chains of sensations connect us to each other and help us make sense of our realities, as Haruki Murakami explains so eloquently here:
“Because memory and sensations are so uncertain, so biased, we always rely on a certain reality-call it an alternate reality-to prove the reality of events. To what extent facts we recognize as such really are as they seem, and to what extent these are facts merely because we label them as such, is an impossible distinction to draw. Therefore, in order to pin down reality as reality, we need another reality to relativize the first. Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. An endless chain is created within our consciousness, and it is the very maintenance of this chain that produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist.”Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
Untitled (2017), found fabrics, cotton thread, sheep’s wool, Joy C Martindale
THE CYCLE Part 1, 21st April 2018 – a perfect day! 12 South London exhibitions by bike topped off with great company, and tea, curry and beer at the end. Such a brilliant way to map the city, see and discuss art, and develop communal knowledge 👍.