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  • Writer's pictureDamian Kinsella

Go Back Jack, Do It Again

My first car was a silver Toyota Tercel wagon that at one point had a particularly galling malfunction... It simply would not reverse. Aside from the embarrassment that defect presented, it made a tricky situation for me while I saved up for the eventual repair since I'd still have to use the thing to get around. So I did what any young man in my situation would do, I learned not to put myself in predicaments where I'd have to go backwards. After a season of looking like a total idiot in a car that wouldn't reverse, I saved my meager wages and the vehicle was brought back to health, and I went back to looking like an idiot for other reasons.

It's a healthy thing to go back when you need to, and going back in order to make something better is a good thing.

During our cold winter months I've been less than enthusiastic about blowing away in the desert in various plein air efforts and have started to correct some pieces that I've come to the conclusion aren't quite done yet. All Saints Gather was a little oil that I'd released on my site months ago. The piece wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I wanted it to be. On that cool night I was a long way out from any light, and had walked up a sandy hill to where a white cross stood fairly far from the road, seeming more like a grave marker than a monument for passers by. The place was pitch dark, and while not yet freezing the air wasn't exactly balmy. The distant range beyond the cross wasn't much darker than the sky, almost blurring into it. It was a greasy blue and the hard line I'd painted just wasn't even close. The more I stared at the painting I'd produced the more it didn't "feel" like what I'd experienced in that sandy clearing, and the space between what I'd created and what I remembered of the place started to suggest it was time to go back ready to close the gap. So I shortened the arms of the cross which on reflection weren't quite accurate. The warmer, brighter tones of the image didn't convey the cool tone of that place. The dim light was more fearful. The mountains were more obscure, the sky darker with stars that hinted at more color in the way some stars do. Even staring at that scene for 10 minutes was like glancing quickly at something and remembering very little of it... and there it was. I'd been more concerned in the first round with recreating what was there, not what I'd been most impacted by in that moment.

J.M.W. Turner once said "My business is to paint what I see, not what I know is there." - which in that moment I'd neglected. Thankfully, I now have a functional reverse when I need one, and I'm happy to say I find no shame in it. So with that, hopefully you'll like All Saints Gather, a now finished piece.

All Saints Gather - Oil on Canvas 9x12 - Available

By the way, if you've got a little bit of time to fill your eyes with beauty, you may want to check out the work of Mr. Turner here. I can't wait to go see his work again in London, once things get back to normal. Until then, I'll be out painting. Damian

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