Saturday, October 21, 2006
Woman At Work
Grey clouds, a strong, cool wind out of the south, and light showers – it could hardly be a better day for me to get back to painting.I have learned not to push myself too hard when I'm working with enamel. My body absorbs so much of its toxic vapours, even with a mask, gloves and layers of protective clothing, that after three or four days of painting, I am nauseous all day, my skin festers with small sores, my eyes are as bloodshot as a crack addict's, and my thinking is addled. I have to stop and get away from it completely for a couple of days.This is why I try to maintain a studio that's separate to where I live. These days, my work space is a small house with bright, natural light, a steady cross-flow of fresh sea air, and plenty of open-plan floor space to allow me to work on two or three works – right now, the largest is three metres high, the smallest about half that – at the same time. A secluded surf beach is just a short walk across the street and I go swimming or surfing three times a day to rinse the acrid stench of enamel off me.Still, it's not enough. If I want to continue being imaginative and productive as I work with this despicable medium, rather than oppressed by it, I have to allow for a slower pace, punctuated by short breaks in which I can recover some measure of physical well-being.