In the distance between this muddy, too-forced, half-formed idea and the piece that will sing a clear, strong tone there’s nothing but danger for me now. It’s a distance measured in hours.

I’m wondering why I always come to this place, helpless and dumb, to make compost of the poorly formed beliefs I bring to a piece that asks more of me than I’d thought.

Here I am, staring. Just under the membrane of my assumptions is a thin-edged, difficult beauty that wants to speak but won’t, unless I get the hell out of the way. I drag my feet, strain against my dangerous hyper-focus, make micro changes then unmake them, throw paint, regret choices, solve unnecessary self-made problems, layer after layer after layer of membrane peeled off me as I add each new one onto the canvas. I actually can’t see what I’m doing any more; this is not reasonable.

The season has very suddenly turned from T-shirt weather to snow. I find myself trying to reach beyond the last 10 inches of work into some different idea. (I’ve affectionately named this piece the Beloved Beech. Her public name is Resilience).

Michael Ende is here with Momo to help me out. They offer insights, ask good questions.

My waitress is 21 and just finishing her first trimester. She assures me that she’s got good support (I hadn’t assumed otherwise), that they plan to have five more, to balance the only child syndrome she and her partner both carry. Her first three months have been tough; strong meds manage a constant nausea. Working here is tough on her she says and I silently wonder why we don’t look after mothers better, then catch myself in judgement. Could be that she chooses to work, to stay in motion, and it’s not about money. Stay in your lane, McArthur.

Copy, promo images and titles are due today. I’d thought only four pieces, but nine are needed, which is why I am drinking beer at this restaurant. Five more than I’d planned is okay. The tough piece is a gateway to the rest of a series and I’m almost through.

After Lockdown“, my part of a joint show with the wonderful Eileen Earnshaw at Centre3 Member’s Gallery on James North in Hamilton. Show runs from Friday December 3 to January 2 and opens during Art Crawl on Friday December 9. I’m happy to do personal tours – write to me & we’ll set it up.

Here’s my 190-word description:

All year I’ve been making ink from trees, bugs and flowers. The colours are alive – they fade, they shift, they interact and alter each other on the page like people do in a bar. 

In the studio I work with a collection of canvases made from the backdrop of my previous workspace. On the largest I draw a Beech tree and use it for an interactive installation at The Cotton Factory:  “What’s different for you, since the Lockdowns?”. The responses from that and from interviews underpin these pieces, are written in to them with the natural inks I’ve made. Some will fade, some will deepen. All of the ink pigments will change over time, as humans do.