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what´s that about?


The secret of happiness? Flowing, not forcing.."

I´m a landscape artist. It comes naturally to me paint beautiful, natural scenes in bright colours and forms using techniques I have practised for years. Over the way I've become more adventurous, using shimmering gold leaf to brighten stern Stonehenge, texture to add depth and dimension to rocky shores, and mysterious faces and doors in ancient trees. Here's my semi-abstract painting of Lulworth Cove at sunset to show you what I mean. To see a familiar image differently is to see it anew.

I´m working on a new painting now and I´m way out of my comfort zone. I want to

paint abstracts this year, to unlock feelings and emotions, rather than evoke. It´s not easy. I start with an image, a shape, a colour, and my brush, it seems, creates chaos.

I love listening to responses from visitors to the craft shows in the summer. I overheard a couple discussing an abstract painting- a splash, a splatter, a few dabs and sweeps in discordant colours. “What on earth is that supposed to be? What does that mean?”, they asked each other before agreeing that their cat could have painted it and moving swiftly on. Such great questions.

And they could have a point there because in 2005, abstract creations by Congo the Chimp were exhibited in a show called “Ape Artists of the 50s.” Congo´s paintings sold for over $25,000 at auction, outpricing lots from Warhol and Renoir.

The chaos on my new canvas unsettles me as I struggle to find meaning, the story behind my brushstrokes. I reflect and return to it, gradually giving up the struggle, but not giving up.

I asked for some feedback on my new painting, and after a long pause, my dear critic said it called to mind a heady summer rose garden full of love and laughter, but that she saw ghostly hands from the past holding it back, blocking the entrance. My turn for silence.

In that moment I knew exactly what this painting means to me.

It´s called "Letting Go".

When asked about abstract painting, my good friend Caroline said that she would be drawn to it if she could find meaning it, if it suited a design scheme or theme she wanted, or if there were an inexplicable pull.

So perhaps the real question is not what does this mean, but rather what does this mean to me?

Marja Brown

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