Deadlines and inspiration

Deadlines and inspiration

Firepool work in progress

A deadline is the best form of inspiration. I would not be painting frantically until midnight if I didn’t have a new exhibition at the end of the month. The venue will once again by Velo in Braamfontein, which offers the luxury of acres of white wall and the chance to exhibit very large works.

This exhibition is inspired by firepools. Yes, there’s a reference to Nkandla, and yes, an election looms. So there’s a political dimension to the central work, which also happens to offer a lovely excuse to paint crocodiles and Zambezi sharks. (Fire pool? Firepool? I prefer to depict it as one word.)

Firepool preparatory sketch

The main work consists of 8 A2 panels. 4 feature the firepool itself, and 4 the sky above it filled with birds. I have titled those panels Murmurations I – IV, inspired by these photographs of migrating starlings, but there is at least one chicken coming home to roost.

Structuring the painting this way allows me to stretch it across the back wall of Velo for maximum impact, and also create something that can be sold in pieces or as a whole. Painting something this huge is a challenge though, especially because I don’t have a single surface big enough to work on the paintings as a single unit, and the cats cause havoc.

I had to start work on this over the weekend because if I don’t, the paintings will never dry in time to be mounted. I’m not going to frame them this time – it’s too heavy and expensive, and most buyers want to choose their own frames anyway.

It’s exhausting working under such a tight deadline, and also somewhat surreal, given how much time my day job takes, but nothing gets created unless there’s a compelling reason for it. I’m thrilled to be painting again, and I’ll be sharing details of the exhibition soon.