05 October 2017: The “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” (Keats) has often been a creative time for me. At first sight, this seems natural enough – autumn is a time of harvest, of ripeness, of bearing fruit. So it makes sense that it should be a time of artistic production. However, I find that autumn is not usually about the fruits of artistic labours – it is often more a time of beginnings, starting out, new projects.
I wonder if this has less to do with the seasons and more to do with that other cycle, the rhythm of the academic year. Summer ends and it’s back to school or university. I feel that the “year” starts in September/October rather than in January or in the spring. So, after a bit of a summer lull, it’s back to work and a big list of projects to work on. In print, in paint, and artist’s books. And a desire to return to photography, which I have neglected for a few years. Not all these projects will bear fruit – or, at least, not within the cycle of the next twelve months. But it is certainly an exciting time.
Two years ago, I took autumn directly as a subject for a series of monotype prints (called, with scant imagination, “Autumn”). And while I have no plans for anything so specific this year, the autumn will undoubtedly make its presence felt in my work.
Autumn is colour. Where I live, the leaves turn late if they turn at all – the pines and firs remain solidly green throughout the year (there is, though, a precious island of larch and beech trees amid the pines, which will be demanding a visit within a few weeks).
The autumn light is different. The glare of summer fades and the intense blue sky takes on a softer hue during this journey from equinox to solstice. This is the time of the “dying of the light” – something not to be “raged against” (as Dylan Thomas invites) but rather to be gently welcomed and accepted. The light will return. The darkness is necessary.
As this suggests, there is also something a little melancholy about autumn, as the nights lengthen and the trees shed their foliage to reveal their bare winter bones. I have a project lined up for winter – and a very melancholy one at that. But that’s another story, for a different season.