SEASONAL RHYTHM by Russell Lumb
It is far too early to write an obituary for the summer that would never end, and Sandra assures me that she is confident of fine weather through October, but the mood of the season is changing and we will change with it. Small signs of cooler nights trigger concerns of property maintenance which have been parked in the sidings while time stretched away into the shimmering distance. Painting is less absorbing when your inner taskmaster starts to write lists of increasingly essential household jobs. In retirement, even the sensible allocation of some time to chores feels unfair, having slowly forgotten the demands of working life. Family life, for me, has been unusually tranquil over a glorious summer watching grandchildren flourish and having the time to develop my painting with the necessary degree of concentration and support from others, for which I am truly grateful.
My last blog recorded the oppressive evening of Yorkshire Day, as the summer heat peaked and Jannine wilted. That week also saw the culmination of my efforts to make work for the Studio Eleven show with Tom, which opened on the Saturday in Hull. A big event for me, comparable with any end-of-year submission at school of architecture or professional presentation thereafter; so much work followed by what? In fact, the coincidence of a wild street music festival in endless sunshine, turning Hull’s Marina and Fruitmarket into Marseille sur Humber, made the gallery opening a suitably climactic experience. Not everyone agreed, but my two year intensive painting course at Redbrick Academy was over and the void must be filled.
My early adult life was built around the rhythm of education, from 16 to 25, summer examinations, working holidays and the autumn return to make a new beginning. That is where I find myself again; not part of the working economy but keen to take part and to continue learning. I am consequently grateful to have the continuity of life sessions at Redbrick to maintain momentum, exercise the hand-eye coordination and provide contact with friends. Looking at my work over the past three Thursdays, I think it possible to see this narrative in paint.
Although executed in draining circumstances, the double Jannine of 01 08 2013 has vibrant colour, freedom of application and sensual expression celebrating the end of a long, hard slog. The Joseph of 08 08 2013 is definitely a holiday snap of golden youth looking forward in strong sunlight, and the Siobhan of 15 08 2013 is a sober return to academic rigour. They were not made with such intentions, but it is hard to dismiss the evidence. And there is something else; for the first time in years, Siobhan is tonally darker than the background and has weight that recent paintings have not conveyed. Is this another “happy accident” or a new direction to be followed? I have to admit that I enjoyed holding a charcoal pencil again and found the combination with acrylic paint to be flexible and expressive.
I am also aware of the disruption caused to others’ painting activity by summer holidays, family developments and social commitments, and assume that their work is similarly influenced. Biographies of artists usually rely heavily on providing domestic background and social relationships to inform the work, but, interesting as this may be, I find that my response to any painting is little affected by social context, although I know that it must have influenced the making of the work. Perhaps others are more able to recognise these influences in their own work although, as with “likeness”, influences are purely academic when work is considered my remote third parties. My friends in the Thursday afternoon group are all, apparently, engrossed in well-defined projects although I think that Hadyn and Sue may be ready, like me, to move on to something new, bigger and better; for this is a season for optimism. We are privileged to spend time on an activity which has no limitations save our own imagination and ambition and I intend to convert all of this lovely sunshine into ripe fruit.
Paintings and drawings by Catherine, Cathy, Chris, Haydn, Janet, Patrick, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Sue, Tom, Tony and featured artist Russell.