A few weeks ago at my open studio, a friend came by and gave me a book to read, Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter, A life, by Patricia Albers. It is a fat hardcover tome of a book and yesterday I set aside a few moments to sit down and begin. I was so taken aback by the first paragraph of the introduction, I wanted share. I don't think I have ever read such a beautiful and stirring account of paint on canvas. Here it is from page 3:
"One rain-spitting February morning several years ago, I stood in a hallway at the Bibiotheque National Francois Mitterrand in Paris, frustrated by my efforts to locate a certain document. The hallway had marble-smooth concrete walls, dim natural light, and a high ceiling. For some reason I glanced up: above me hung a large, squarish oil painting tingling with a marvelous blue lavender, a blue lavender that washed over me as if, having never before seen-no, felt-blue lavender, I'd plunged into a bracing pool of it. I sensed in the painting mingled sun and shade, meadow tangle, lurking dusk, yearning, and the touch of a human hand. But most of all I was caught up in that tonic hydrangea color. Breached by a loamy green black, it drifted upward, urged along by a burst of vivid yellow. No color was block-solid:each felt airy, each sputtered with others. And, like a river viewed through binoculars, the image was both tangible and otherworldly, stirring and still. I felt as if I'd been whisked away from the Bibliotheque Nationale to a secular Sainte-Chappelle. The radiant flicker of ecstasy hanging above me was Joan Mitchell's La Grande Vallée V, and its ambush that day sealed my decision to write this book."
I take it as a good sign when the first few sentences of a book take hold. I am so looking forward to reading during my last few days of this busy summer!
Secondly I came across this article yesterday from the Guardian. Sort of a timely read given that Ms Mitchell's presence in the painting scene of the 50's, 60's and 70's was clearly eclipsed by her male counterparts. I have to say I am not exactly certain that Bridget Riley is in fact Britain's greatest painter, but the fact that an accomplished female painter has entered the dialogue of the critics is a step in the right direction.