Should Paintings be Pleasing?

Should paintings be pleasing? Nice? Attractive? Should they be decorative and easy to live with? Should they look good? Should they make sense? Should they obey rules?

Or are paintings something you have a relationship with? Are they a place to ponder, to lose yourself? A portal into another dimension in some way? Should they have a narrative or a message? Or should they challenge you, confront or inform?

I think the best paintings give you a space for meditation and escape. Good paintings are decorative. Great paintings are extra dimensional. And some paintings are just plain rubbish, but if the artist learned something and had a good time, who cares! And as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Certain paintings literally talk to me in the process of painting them. Ideas come. The paint makes surprise demands and you follow not knowing where you are going. You let go into the paint. Do this, do that, the paint commands.

This painting – is it finished? Is it rubbish? Does it talk to you like it did to me? Is it just – what it is! Is it just plain odd? Is it work in progress? Is it an idea half formed? I don’t know.

I wanted to paint a landscape but it became about the winds of change. The cold winds then became horses. Unexpectedly, but maybe not surprisingly.

The wind has been strong and cold here for these past 3 weeks in lockdown. I have spent as much time as I can outside. I have to earth myself. Earth girls are ease. An alien amongst trees and animals. I’ve loved the peace! Just the wind and birdsong and the odd tractor passing. I have chosen to just continue doing what I have done for several years, just more so, no distractions, no imperative to do anything else, just be a hermit, paint, not listen to the news, write blogs, paint some more, walk the same walk everyday, be with my animals, plant trees, tend the land. I am used to being alone. It is peaceful and blissful for me.

As the horses came to life in the painting so came the title ‘Birth of the Clydesdale.’ These horses were first bred in sight of Tinto Hill, the defining landscape feature in this part of Lanarkshire. Tinto, a mother hill, a breast hill, a hill of local rhyme.

Thoughts came too… change comes to help us. Mother Earth knows best. This lockdown is wonderful for nature. We all need to rest, to reconsider… change is in the wind, the world is changing and it is for good. Branches get broken in strong winds and trees fall. Don’t be frightened, death comes to all of us, breathe deeply, listen to the wind, the wind carries ideas, be present…

How precious the strong magnificent Clydesdale horse must have been for farmers… What a change for the better to have kindness and strength, power and endurance to work with you. The expression ‘If Wishes were Horses’ was first recorded near Tinto too.’ First collected by James Carmichael in 1628 . The expression is a theme in my art. If Wishes Were Horses – once upon a time the Clydesdale horse was wished into being.

Maybe I will repaint this huge canvas, maybe I will add a Clydesdale or two and trees in the foreground or maybe it is finished, I don’t know! For now the painting has stopped talking to me. So I stop.

And does it matter if anyone likes it? Does it matter if it is good or successful as a painting? Not really! The wind whispered in my ear and I was happy.

Birth of The Clydesdale by Kirsten Harris , 100 x 150 cm, Oil on Canvas

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