It’s night when I most feel the need to write.
I’m painting small pictures of frogs. The paper is cheap and the water causes it to buckle unsatisfyingly. All artists seem to have a jealous hoarding desire for paper. It physically effects me to waste or witness unnecessary waste of paper; a turning of the stomach. I’ve never known an artist who doesn’t covet even the crappiest of paper as if it’s of incredible value. Notes, phone numbers and shopping lists, written on impossibly small, illegible scraps.
The last few nights I’ve been hearing what sounds to me like a turkey in the garden. The quiet mewing of a hen bird talking lovingly to her chicks. Of course it isn’t, I’m in a village too far from any farm to hear such a delicate, private call and it’s the wrong season, but that is exactly what it reminds me of. I don’t know what it is. A pheasant?
I heard gleanies in the valley the other day. I struggled on my crippled feet down to the large immaculate estate; all sharp vibrant green lawns and asphalt lanes, ugly and uninspiring. I can’t be bothered by minimalism. Diggers have scrapped away winter cover around the now heavily gushing stream. Wild pockets of bramble and habitat devastated to reveal bare earth like slick chocolate, heavy tyres slewing their tracks through the mud, destroying generations of bulbs and mychorrhizal fungus networks.
To hear gleanies made me realise I haven’t heard them for years. Sounds, like smells, can shock you back to memories you didn’t even know you’d lost. My grandmother kept gleanies at the farm, or Guinea Fowl as they’re more rightly known, I assume to assert her claim as a royalist. Embarrassing badges of honour for aspiring neocolonialists; as British as lions.
Like this phantom night turkey I can now hear, to hear gleanies makes me feel 10 again.
I will paint frogs tomorrow. Not for any reason. Just a yearning and because I can. The one I’ve started isn’t very good but I’ll pursue it. I never paint on the thicker watercolour paper I have stashed away. The reason being every piece of art I’ve ever started is the draft for the real thing. I’ve never started a real painting yet.
Frogs are living watercolours. Their natural wet-varnish texture means they need to be painted in the medium of water. They are water. Like glistening iridescent jewels of impossible colours, their eyes are pools of amber with living green-gold flecks, their skin is mineral glitter and their toes, translucent fungal probes.