James Abbott McNeill Whistler
“How long did it take to do that?” Every painter has been asked this question at some time or another. Although a reasonable question to ask it does seem to imply that the worth of a painting is somehow connected to the time it took to paint it. What do you think – is there a valid relationship between time and worth or even value of a painting? My answer would be an unequivocal “No”.
It’s true that some paintings just flow very quickly. Spontaneity and speed are an integral part of the attractiveness of such work. Indeed I enjoy doing a painting in a very limited time as it frees you from all the clutter and detail so you have to focus on the main point you are trying to express. Other paintings are different and require more time, indeed more effort to get them to say what you want them to say. In a painting like this detail becomes all important.
This was a painting that demanded more time though it was not conceived as such. I painted it in four sessions spread over several days. The sessions were between two or three hours each. Nice way to paint really with lots of thinking time in between. It gave me a chance to reassess what I had done previously and make any necessary alterations before proceeding to the next stage.
The original inspiration came after a chance remark by a dear old friend Stan Lewis about autumn mists. So I began the painting with just a vague idea of a typical autumn morning as the sun broke through the mist. It was not really based on any specific place or time period so very quickly I determined to call it “Autumn Memories”.
Over the next few days memories began to surface. The background was a reminder of a morning quite a few years ago when Merice and I were on our way to Gallery 49 in Bridlington. We stopped off for a stroll in a small nature reserve near where we lived in York at the time. The reserve is renowned for its fantastic rhododendron collection but it was the trees on the way out that caught the attention this particular day. It was a cold and misty autumn morning with the rays of the sun breaking through. It was a bit nippy but we knew the sun would eventually dissipate the mist and we would be treated to a glorious day. It turned out thus.
Over the next few days many more autumn memories surfaced – strolls in woods with Lauren and Katie, hot soup and homemade bread waiting for your return. Then further back in time to carefree childhood days in Cockersdale wood, blazing coal fires and the excitement of Christmas getting nearer. I appreciate that memories are always viewed through rose tinted glasses but it was fun to bask in those happy times.
Details filtered through into the painting like leaves fallen floating in puddles, branches with just a few lingering remains of their green glory or beaten down foliage rotting away but keeping its seeds warm and safe so they could bring forth vibrant new life next Spring. All these are encapsulated in “Autumn Memories”.
So, how long did it take for me to do this painting? The answer is a lifetime of memories and a few hours. I hope you enjoy it and that it stirs many happy memories for you. I think it’s time for a wee noggin of port now. Cheers. Glenn