Quince, essential

Rotting Quince (A5 ink and coloured pencils) 2017

When an apple is past its best it becomes a weirdly wrinkled thing. A pear ages particularly badly, appearing to be whole but beneath that perfect skin lurks a mushy interior. Grapes shrivel, pomegranates go brown and foul-smelling when cut open, mangoes turn into ochre bruises.

Quinces, however, are altogether different. They rot dramatically, their agony written across their flesh like a medieval martyr. Sometimes they split and the edges turn inwards as they discolour, producing a dark blue chasm that reaches down to the heart of the fruit. There is a faint smell of early morning in Spain around your fruit bowl as the dying quince starts to decompose. That beautiful yellow skin acquires brown spots, the base seems to turn inwards and produce bulbous curves like babies’ fists.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know of my adoration of the quince. This fine example – the only fruit from a tree in my ex-wife’s garden – was irresistable. Wearing its fatal wound nobly it nevertheless tried to last the season, ripening in the south German sunshine. I wanted to commemorate its will to survive.

I’m still out there trying to move my art practice on to a different path: my heart wants to explore but my hand wants to draw and paint like it has for the past few years. This drawing is a good example: I had intended it to be a semi-abstract acrylic, it came out as an ink and coloured pencil illustration.

Then again, any representation of this wonderful fruit is worth your time. At least, that’s my view.

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17 thoughts on “Quince, essential

  1. It is a beautiful drawing, Michael.
    Tricky dilemma, the feeling of wanting to grow and explore in your art,but being drawn back to familiar ground.

    You’ve been taking workshops to shake you out of one way of working and let you try others. I think that is a good way to go. Probably you need to be patient while things percolate beneath the surface before they break through and bring you somewhere new. Also, we often try to radically change something in the hopes of breaking new ground, when small adjustments here and there – adding a new colour to one’s palette, trying a new surface to work on, being inspired by another artist’s work, etc, can do the trick as well.

    AND, in my own art practice ( I like the term) what has worked for me is to just keep working. I’ve had constant mini-breakthroughs and recently a major one after 6 years of consistent work, ostensibly brought about by a new brush which launches my technique into a whole new level. But without the hundreds of hours trying and failing over the last years, I wouldn’t be nearly as sure of my colour and composition etc.And with that basis and a vague idea of where I want my work to go, all was in place for the new brushes (or paints, or inspiration etc etc) to push me over an edge in a positive way.
    Hope this helps.

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    • Thank you very much, Sarah. That is very helpful. I think I imagine that I can suddenly change but as you imply, it’s more organic than that. I have also decided to spent more weekends at home instead of running around the country to drown out the silences in my private life. Hopefully that will mean more time for painting and drawing and, as you say, things will evolve. Thank you again for your thoughtful response.

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  2. I feel sure new voices will make themselves heard out of the silence, if you keep listening, at least I’ve found it, and when you don’t expect it. Old friends like the quince lead to new ones like —?? Who is that knocking on the door!!??

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  3. I think it is wonderful where your art leads you, Michael. You plan for it to go in one direction but the muse takes you somewhere else. I think that is what is so magical about creating art. I am not familiar with quince but I could imagine it with this delightful description. My favorite phrase: “bulbous curves like babies’ fists”.

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