For some time now (it's a big dense book) I have been reading Norbert Lynton's William Scott. It is a book which I have wanted to read for several years, but it was just that bit too expensive until it was produced in paperback. It is a fine coincidence that an exhibition of William Scott's work should appear while I am reading the book - but I find that life is full of such happy accidents.
And just as I was beating myself up yet again for not being able to progress in the direction I was trying to, I read this quote from Scott writing in a catalogue for a mixed European and US art in New York in the late '50s:
To have a too clearly conceived idea before beginning a work is for me a constriction; it is in the act of making that the subject takes form, it is in the adding, stretching, taking away and searching for the right exact statement that a tension is set up. I am horrified at the smart brush or any too easy method of gaining effect. I want to paint what I see but never immediately; there must be a time lapse, a 'waiting time' for the visual experience to become involved with all other experience. That is why I paint from memory.
Phew! I knew it really, but it is such a relief to have it confirmed. Perhaps it is daft to worry about such things - I don't know if it is because I sometimes become too aware of the fact that I have no formal training. Probably not. It is usually down to lack of self confidence.
Anyway, yesterday, while desperately scrabbling around to find an image for my penultimate drypoint plate I suddenly realised why I had been moved to take a snap of folks being taken on a tour of the Scott exhibition in the Tate.
I thought that it was simply something about the grouping of the shapes, the sweep of the balcony, the air vents, etc. But it was more than that. The back of my mind had been turning over a drawing I'd done years ago of two people talking
- a drawing which I had never used because it was incomplete in itself. But although I had tried all sorts of settings and compositions, I could not see how or why it was incomplete - until yesterday. I was scratching my head again over the above image, wondering whether simply to use it as it is, when suddenly I could see the whole by using the photo:
So, once more I am grateful to the attic of sometimes useful junk which is my brain, and I'm just off to scratch it into the acrylic to make the plate.