The blink of an eye.

It's difficult to be a painter who works with colour in this day and age, especially in Britain. We are a literary culture for one thing - we like things spelled out , explained and increasingly packaged in some sort of "meaningful" way. And as a consequence colour is regarded in highly subjective ways; the usual cliches pervade our take on paintings that deal with colour in an up front way - dark colours are serious, primary or higher keyed ones are frivolous, garish colours are edgy, pastel ones wishy-washy, earth tones are for interior furnishings and so on.

Yet to really deal with colour one has to deal with the forces that colour has - visual forces. A good painter will set up conflicts in these forces and do battle with them, ultimately aiming to resolve them in a way that does not dissipate the forces but maintains their frisson, their charge, their latent energy.

We apprehend paintings at light speed in a blink of an eye. I passed a man in the street today with a sort of facial 'disfigurement' - something simple like a prominent birth mark. I held onto his stare for a nano second longer than usual, just as a knee-jerk 'take' on a difference to an expected neutrality of features. In this split second he knew as he passed that I was looking at that 'difference' in his face and it was also in that moment that I knew that he had had that reaction not just before but every time he passed someone in the street. It was a sort of challenging look back, a kind of "yeah and..?'' look - not aggressive, not tired or resigned even,  just a reflex, but this complexity of response and feeling, this analysis and thought process occurred in the blink of an eye. Did I feel sorry? who am I to feel like that? arrogance can catch you unawares at times and you feel ashamed or even ashamed that you don't feel ashamed. No, my feeling was at once curiosity, curiosity at the whole passage of time and how it had passed in a heartbeat.

Paintings can do this , time stands still, yet opens out all around us in the blink of the first glance at a painting; the forces of colour,  the battle, the sting in our eyes that we get when we really are caught in the reflected light and singleness of balance that a great painting can have. Difficult to work towards this end as a painter, especially today, here, in this climate  - the rewards are constant though. It's our expectations of them that change. That's why we are always looking for the next 'new thing' and miss the opportunities to really learn something.