I was talking with another artist yesterday about the value of looking at work in new environments. Re-situating a painting or an image in an entirely different setting can be extremely enlightening. Much the same fresh perspective can be gained from viewing a work in a mirror. Or turning it upside down. There’s that old story about Kandinsky coming home one evening and doing a double take of a painting he had left upside down at the end of his hallway. His re-seeing of the inverted work was instrumental in the development of his abstract art.
I was reminded of all this this morning as I walked the dog in torrential rain. It was so wet that my clothing ceased to wick moisture from my body and instead became a conduit for intravenous delivery of rain to my entire being. I was, however, undeterred by the prevailing conditions because there is something quite masochistically pleasurable in getting so drenched that you might as well be swimming.
And I made the decision that it was time to reverse direction on a circular walk I have now done a good few times. Aside from the fact that going counter-clockwise makes it seem like an entirely different walk (which in a way it is), it is always interesting to see things from the opposite direction. I invariably encounter something worthwhile, and this morning was no exception.
I spotted a new path. I can’t imagine how I managed to miss it so easily all the times I had passed by from the other direction. It was a good path: quiet, greenery, trees, off-road, extended the overall walk by a perfect 10 minutes, and at the same time increased the potential amount of off-lead time for the dog. I felt exceedingly happy as I ambled along, marvelling at my previous ignorance.
There are so many opportunities to change direction, see from a new angle, turn things upside down and look at in reflection. These are powerful phrases and terms which it pays me to bear in mind not just when painting.