Hijack, Failure, and Anthropomorphising the paint!

This post follows on from comments here and elsewhere, about self-hijacking, and rule breaking.

Sometimes we set ourselves up to fail. 

We hijack our own progress by setting limits and rules: 

“I’m going to write in my blog once a day/week/month”… in my brain rules like this are always doomed to failure because they become aligned with work, duty, obligation… I’ve never had much of a work ethic. I shirk responsibility wherever possible. I write when I feel like it. Sometimes this is twice a day. Sometimes two months goes by. But if I write and post you can be assured it is not out of duty, but interest, because I want to say something.

I have looked at when I blog, and more interestingly when I don’t. I don’t blog if I’m waiting, or in some sort of limbo… in a changing state. Unless it is a brief post to say just that – a sort of “Out of Office” post?


Sometimes we set ourselves up to succeed. 

I do set rules for the way I work with others. These might be professional ways of engagement rules which I have discovered I break at my peril. I have seen others around me crumble too under the weight of the unprofessional “Lets just do it, it’ll be fine/great/amazing… this time next year we will be millionaires!” Because in my experience, unless you establish professional rules of engagement, and expectation, of who is doing what, and how payment (if any) happens, it ends in resentment, unkindness, and murderous levels of sarcasm. It does not end in people working to their best. Failure happens through a failure to set up how we care for each other, and ourselves. Self defeating.


I set the rules for my making too. I work to them. Then I look behind me to find I have broken them and something interesting has occurred!

I’m sure I’ve laid out such rules here. I remember some of them. 

The 8B pencil. The flat layout of drawing like botanical specimens. No colour. Limited colour. No colour again. The 6H pencil. Watercolour paper. Not watercolour paper… and now again the watercolour. I set the boundaries and keep going. Prolific amounts of drawing and painting.

Each material throws up a new set of qualities, and therefore a different set of boundaries and possibilities. For example, I have been working on the large roll of paper, developing a sort of narrative across it. Then I made the decision to cut the paper, limit my colour choice to alizarin crimson for one piece. it worked well. I ran out of paint, so for the next couple I used single colours. This naturally drained my stock of particular colours, so off I went to buy new. I bought a few tubes of high quality watercolour paint. I loved the Payne’s grey. And the Indian red. And then I used the yellow ochre. I was initially annoyed that it didn’t work like the others. Of course it didn’t. In a good quality paint with real pigment, the colour isn’t just about colour, it is about a material quality. I am currently in love with yellow ochre. Yellow ochre is rough, and grinds down my pencils like sandpaper when I draw over it. Payne’s grey doesn’t. When I paint Payne’s grey over the ochre it resists… oh my that is exciting. The decisions then about what I draw and where I draw become very complex indeed. And HERE…. RIGHT HERE… is why I am drawing and not stitching at the moment (will I ever go back?)

My work themes for the last ten years, (probably longer than that, but less deliberately perhaps) concern touch. How we touch each other. Physical, emotional, social, intellectual… each person touches another, a reaction happens, explosive, or slow burn, passion, hatred, or as above, murderous sarcasm.

Now I have it in the materials. Yellow ochre has no time for Payne’s grey… shrugs him off… Payne’s grey is gentle on my pencils, allows the 6H to groove across it in a ghostly fashion. The ochre is violent and aggressive… but Indian red does the bleeding… runs hurriedly across the page, making panicky changes in direction under the threat of my hairdryer. Payne’s grey dries in a beautiful naturally occurring fractal patterned manner. So there. Spiteful and sarcastic? Am I really anthropomorphising the paint?

Hell yeah.


Who needs them!?

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