Silent Night

The song, it started out chipper, honestly. Was painting the picture when I put the brush in the murky water and reached for the nearest instrument. Was in a screeching key of Jack’s Lament from The Nightmare Before Christmas while squinting at what had been the orange and black base notes of the picture so far. Then, while squinting at the notes I missed on the violin, Silent Night came out, and then the news of Berlin. Headed there in February.

With the violin, it’s been trying to find ways that can’t already be done with guitars. An untrained EMO Warren Ellis is somewhere in it all every time I try and play, but this past few weeks have been finding inspiration in Black Violin and Damien Escobar, who played the US national anthem the other day.

The picture started with a sketch and the song started with the untamed violin notes.

There’s similarities in my approach to the two these days: scribbling until some sense is made.

Lately my paintings have been of city pigeons and homeless people, all for the new novel, Store High In Transit. The “method painting” thing has felt delusional at times (painting as the character of the story). It’s become a way of keeping the paintings at arm’s length, and who’d spend so many evening painting pigeons and homeless people?

Had Christmas in mind while doing this picture. Was determined to paint kids in a sledge or a snowman but it’s Manchester. Think Pogues, if you need a reason.

The fella’s pretty much wearing clothes of mine. The reds of the wood he’s sat within just about stank like they were rotting by the time it was done, so felt right to me. At the risk of sounding deep, Berlin’s all crumbled there in the background. It was Manchester until Charlotte came in and told me what had happened.

Lately one of the most inspiring artists has been Manc, Hugh Winterbottom. Not even close with finding his colours in things, but the electric waters let run are Manchester in the rain for sure. So when I reached a point that I usually get to with these things – which, this time felt like a plateau – I over saturated the watercolours and let the canvas tip in the way the rain will drizzle down your window.

Will give White Christmas a pop if there’s time, for these songs have finite meaning for such a brief window before they mean nothing at all for another 300 days.