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  • Ray Monde

Is it nonsense to take art advice from a 1993 movie?

Damn it near Shoalhaven River

Here’s the last of my series of Dark Side of the Road. This landscape is quite near my house, it’s a dam by the road on the way into town. I quite like the dark earth and bright sky. But the more I look at it, the more I feel something is missing – or is it?

There’s a great quote from the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation:

“I remembered how easy it is for a painter to lose a painting. He paints and paints, works on a canvas for months, and then, one day, he loses it. Loses the structure, loses the sense of it. You lose the painting. I remembered asking my kids’ second-grade teacher: ‘Why are all your students geniuses? Look at the first grade – blotches of green and black. The third grade – camouflage. But your grade, the second grade, Matisses, every one. You’ve made my child a Matisse. Let me study with you. Let me into the second grade. What is your secret?’ ‘I don’t have any secret. I just know when to take their drawings away from them.’

I feel like this is where I am at with this work. Do I overwork it and mess it up or do I content myself with its minimal darkness. Looking at it I find it both comforting and disconcerting, there’s a undercurrent of forboding, I don’t know whether it’s because night is coming or dawn is about to break. I feel like there’s an ambiguity about it and if I touch it, I’ll destroy that balance.

So I’ve put it on the floor in the hall, every time I walk past it to go to the bathroom or to go outside to the dog, I’ll look at it and think, “Is it done or does it need more?” I wish my second grade teacher would come and take it away from me.

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