In which I use time

I grind up hours and daub them on canvas.

Ten o’clock is a carmine that has a mind of its own, eleven o’clock an aquamarine that I never quite mix enough of, twelve o’clock is a delicate pink with an unsuspectingly tenacious stain on my palette. 

Daylight momentarily resists, then crumbles under pressure and feathers the bottom of a milky jar. Time pours into a stained yoghurt tub, pours out, pours in, pours out.

There is barely a moment spared for eating, cleaning, or rolling sore shoulders: every second needs to be channelled into pigment. 

When the last of daylight has been scraped from the jar, the colours begin to warp. 

The colours of the night like to deceive. Ten o’clock is a deep purple that looks black under the electric lights, I know eleven o’clock to be a light limey green but I can only see yellow, twelve o’clock refuses to blend smoothly, chunks of burnt orange floating in a tangerine base.

The canvas sits and waits for time to dry upon its surface. I scrub minutes from my fingers, seconds from beneath my nails, and an unruly moment from its attempted escape onto my shirt. 

I discharge time from its monotonous polytone task, and release it to transform into other things.


  1. I particularly like the way the water looks in this one. And you’ve used words beautifully to paint the process of painting. (I gave up art years ago because I could never get enough time to work on a piece and if I stopped and came back to it later, either the inspiration would be gone or the mood would have altered.)

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    1. Thank you! I have the same thing with art so I tend to only do fast art (one session only). I occasionally do big canvases that require a lot more work, and it’s been a bit of a trial in discipline and commitment. It helps if I know I’ve got to get it finished to give to someone (I’m much more motivated by extrinsic factors!)

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      1. I never got as far as learning to paint on canvas at all, so I love seeing what people can do with it. Pencil, pen & colored pencil were what I was working with when I was young, and most of it was self-taught (with a tiny bit of training from my maternal grandmother, who was a very gifted artist, but we weren’t particularly close so I didn’t spend a lot of time with her in regards art.)

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