This painting, Mandrax (below), Emerged from stains on a book cover, coalescing over time into this image. As well as canvases, I often paint directly onto hardback book covers, nearly all of them bought from the great Glasgow bookshop Voltaire & Rousseau. The covers, in their colour and shape, suggest imagery to me and it seems important that they are second-hand books with a history, and usually a smell.
This painting shows an interior space with a figure looking out of a window, looking at nothing, a blank. If painting is a medium of stasis then this figure is frozen in a moment. It is a nocturnal situation, perhaps around four in the morning. Silent.
Night interests me deeply as a space in each day where reason is challenged and we are vulnerable to fear (Brendan Behan once declared himself “only a daytime atheist”).
It poses certain formal challenges too, in how to represent the borders of the visible and the mood and qualities of that time. With painting, what interests me often more than meaning is feeling.
This painting is part of a show called Paintings from a Room, which takes its title from the Leonard Cohen album Songs from a Room, released in April 1969. At the time I was in another sort of room, my mother’s womb.
Cohen’s music has over time provided a soporific soundtrack: “It’s four in the morning, the end of December.” It is music about longing, loss, death, sex. It is music that comes from the interior.
Andrew Cranston: Paintings from a Room, is at the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh until 26 March