Friday, April 30, 2010

what I really really want

We have trained ourselves to watch our words and actions.
Convention and acceptability runs deep in our social survival thinking. To do what you really, really want can be suicidal. 
Conversely, it can be very empowering, to step up to the opportunity that personal creativity offers.

I thought for some time this afternoon considering my options for this small panel. I had tried various options but all had been washed out as they were deemed unsatisfactory.

This scheme came suddenly to me and the urge to do it overwhelming.
careful mixing - careful application - radical concept
As far as a visual representation of the concept is concerned, it is as close as I have managed so far.    

Thursday, April 29, 2010

unfamiliar paths

A new day will see a picture in a new light.
. . .even more so when the picture is one day old.

I had a momentary temptation to make hints of reality in this work - but could not bring myself to do it. The mystery in the arrangement and the energy in the paint had to stay. I made a number of adjustments and cleaned the brushes.

Better to leave it a month and judge it then.
Judging is as difficult as creating.
Two sides of one coin.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

carried along

A good deal of the day is mine, so,
a studio day.
There is a canvas on the easel that is already started, it needs developing.It is a reproduction of the ink wash drawing shown yesterday.
I stare at it, I work on it and wash it all off, do it again and wash it off. 
I read.
I change the music.
I make tea.
I think.

I begin to smear on paint with one hand
then more and squeeze out more paint
rubbing with a paint hardened rag helps
this definitely not planned or expected

Renoir said he felt like a cork in a stream
I think I know a bit of that

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The three entities

While constructing this ink wash drawing I had in mind three entities.
One of which was myself.

 When prompted to name the file while saving it I called it 'enclosure'
The drawing has map qualities or what we would call a plan view. Immediately I question that statement, for with such a new drawing it would be premature to decide on such an orientation so soon.

I rather like it inverted  . . . . 

In the early '90s I did work on a 'reunion' theme with three figures embracing, but on a more representational footing. How in this piece I am to develop the entities and their relationship will occupy me next.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Seeing the Queen

My expectation does not align with what is required.
Fulfilling expectation leads to disappointment,
while being obedient to what is required can be new territory.
Setting the requirement is all.

The requirement varies according to my conceptual position.
As this moves so does the requirement.

This is a picture of Esther, Xerxes and Haman according to my current requirement. 
The painting illustrates the requirement. 

Maintaining alignment to my current requirement (called painting) is to be introduced to the requirement  visually. 
This can be a surprise.

Friday, April 23, 2010

why worry?

This drawing was made yesterday morning before my drawing expedition.
I felt it to be significant.
The three players on three panels at a shallow table.
The panels to be joined with fabric hinges and the table attached with copper wire.

Such a ground has now been made.

This week I have dismantled the Susa banquet. Testing, observing and reconsidering in a variety of disciplines. Asking questions, or rather posing questions is the threshold to understanding. The question is the answer.

Below is a further development of the question.
Colour has also made an appearance in my mind. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rock and chalk

There is a time when I need to touch the primitive. To connect with another time.
My drawings of the susa banquet became involved in figures, body language and more superficial things. I must look back, back a long way. For this very purpose I have been visiting this rock for a long time, last time as I recall it was snowing, today was a glorious spring day. I take chalks with me to make simple emblems and symbols. I do not know the meanings, I just allow them to appear, I am a third party, watching an event, a manifestation. 
A sort of regeneration occurs here, a detox from the taint of commercialism. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

early takes on a Susa banquet.

This is the culmination of a days attention to the problem.
As the light faded I did not turn on the lights - instead I worked faster.
This was the next to last drawing, and a significant improvement on the 5.00pm effort.

Mondays film was easier, but then, that was not drawing!
Perhaps the small white grounds that I have prepared for tomorrow should be put aside for Friday and engage in another 'unfamiliar' discipline. 
With six grounds ready maybe I do oil sketches in an unfamiliar way.
My objective will be recognized when I do it.
Familiar methods generate habitual results, these I know will not do.
They have to be left behind.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

a formation of timeless energy

Part ii Get out more!
I have an abiding love for old masters
Today saw me drawing in the NG, just like old times.

These three along with some 14C Italians are masters of design, Above all they master the drama of an angle. Sometimes hidden, subtle, yet deep and unsettling. To stand and examine the arrangement of these works by making small pencil analytic drawings is fascinating.
I found a mastery of format, colour balance and design, all fitted perfectly for its ultimate purpose. Mantegna with his three figures in a square format, oft repeated, always successful. Soft, powerful and memorable.

I walked briskly along the Embankment to Tate Modern, to allow the the Modern masters to  register alongside the 'after image' that remained with me. On level three I saw Three Dancers by Picasso, work by Bacon, and Motherwell. Their orchestration of the elements is the same, a formation of timeless energy.

There is more to be done,
as Toulouse Lautrec said so well, 'Onward, onward breadcrumb"

Monday, April 19, 2010

fresh week - fresh idea's

A morning spent thinking and reading.
I study the issue of moving on, building on the existing work and taking it to a new place.
Traditionally one always drew to develop ideas, but as I read around modern learning and teaching methods I sought a way to plan new variables.  By engaging in different disciplines I could be true to myself and expose myself to new inputs.
My base idea is 'table', the sub-divisions are metaphysical, domestic and intellectual/artistic.
Following this base concept I need achievable outcomes, an interface that the subconscious can attach values to as I work.
For the metaphysical I have begun on Esther's banquet, where three dined in dramatic circumstances, Esther, Xerxes and Haman. (bible, see Esther c7)
My exercise was to 'make' - using coloured paper from IKEA, I cut shapes and made a quick film. Watching it - I can feel a movement, an embryonic movement that is creative. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ink sketches on Flickr

Awaiting collection at the framer
15 ink sketches

To balance out the oils and watercolours I have commissioned frames for these small ink sketches that paved the way for the oils. The were done as lively brainstorming ideas, three for each action. Allowing this sort of freedom is very helpful at various stages to encourage movement in the concept, to test arrangements and tonal variations. 
and after all that, their unassuming naturalness is pleasing on the eye.

(sizes and prices to follow in a day or two)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


welcome to The HEXAD show.
a short introduction to my new pictures

The black book

I am preparing for the HEXAD show.
 This is a group artist show at the Greenstede Gallery in East Grinstead . West Sussex. 
I will show all the 'Manifestation' as a group on that occasion for the first and probably only time.
As a first installment I have scanned and uploaded all forty pages of what I call the 'black book' to Flickr  This 'black book' was the launching cradle of the Manifestation series and has eight coloured drawings or coloured ideas that relate to the five chosen actions.
The great discipline of such a book is that every page remains and cannot be discarded, giving a true record of the thinking at the time.
As the painting developed I did refer to these drawings, having the book open as I worked.
The book will be on display at the preview of the HEXAD show for anyone who is interested to see the genesis of works of this nature.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oyster Framing

I have a soft spot for workshops, and picture framers especially.
That my son Martin is a photographer and a quality framer, this makes commissioning frames a fairly stress free activity. I shot this piece of film this morning at his Lingfield workshop this morning while collecting the 'manifestation' watercolours. It involves coffee, seeing the new frames and generally talking over plans and schemes.

The presentation of work is a serious business. That the purpose of the painting is extended on through the selected frame is really important.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

Understanding, is not a quick thing

Journalism and writing today is often about impact, getting an audience with radical or ridiculous viewpoints. A habit that becomes wearisome let alone time wasting.
This morning over coffee I read some of the essays in 'Modern Times' , a catalogue of the exhibition I visited on Saturday last in Bexhill's De La Warr Pavilion. One in particular, The age of Modernism by Lutz Becker was a triumph of clarity and perception as he laid out the politics and art movements of the 20C. Along with the Independent,  I found the drawings a remarkable spotlight on a troubled age. Understanding, is not a quick thing, but the recognition of understanding can often be immediate. To assimilate this material, that may in turn illuminate other texts, will take a little while, but will not now be wearisome or time wasting.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Today has been a good day.
We drove down to Bexhill to The De La Warr Pavilion to see an extraordinary display of 20th - 21st C drawings collected by Lutz Becker. He was there today to share with us his reasons and thoughts on the drawings. What a sensitive, intelligent and emotive talk he gave this afternoon, an experience that will stay with me of a long time.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Dynamic Duo

Now the paintings are almost finished, we need to roll out the promotion machine! 
From experience and observation this is a further act of creativity.
Setting aside the fat checkbook method, I have observed some brilliant promotional campaigns. 
Doing this yourself shows up just how inspirational those people are.

As this is a local East Grinstead show my first thought was Posters.
The old HP A3 printer was dusted off and my retired G4 fired up, then this dynamic duo started printing posters for me.
I recall that my best show ever, years ago, was on the back of posters, so next week I get to dish out posters. 
we do the obvious first, while we are thinking of the next thing!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Inhale - exhale -

I like a picture to looks wrong at first, and then as I look, it becomes right. It's rightness is rooted in wrong. Thus to correct the wrongs wrecks its secret.

As I work I look for things that are too right and make them wrong. That's within form, colour or composition. How I make them wrong has to be a right wrong or it is simply wrong. This is a matter of experiment and experience.

Having said that - the last thing I did here was the trailing leg on the left that is painted in a realistic form and colour. On this occasion its rightness was sufficiently wrong to be right without alteration.

If this process becomes difficult, something is wrong. It will become laboured and clever.
Inhale - exhale - Inhale - exhale - Inhale - exhale - etc

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

To stop working on something is better than finishing it.

I inch towards a point where I can walk away.
To stop working on something is better than finishing it.
It is just knowing when to stop working!

Today saw a new face and a wide gray band arrive.
I knew the red in the background had to go, but then spent a good deal of time mixing colours to replace it, in the end gray was best and masked straight lines proved a satisfactory edge.

Tomorrow will see more work on the 'playing' canvas with the hope I can reach some conclusion
If that occurs I can draw a line under the project.
That gives me a month to sort frames and presentation.
The Hexad show will see them all together and the link gives early notification of dates and times.

Monday, April 5, 2010

If in doubt, paint it out

Yep, once again, scrapers are out.
Saturday's painting was in the right direction, just not quite far enough.

It was too decorative, 
weak and pathetic.
Now it is more about work, how it is to work.

this persistence, work, is a continuing labour. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

connecting to a reality outside of time

A pile of old watercolours turned up today at the back of a drawer.
There are about 15 of them, painted on museum mount card and interleaved with tissue.
Looking at them, I feel that time and reality are disconnected, as if the paintings are of now and not then.
I disregarded a lot of early work because 'I' was not ready for it and thus did not recognize it.

One of the benefits of being older is that what others like is less important.
One of the drawbacks of being older is that it is easy to settle in a rut.

These old watercolours have stirred me.
They tell me I need to connect to a reality that is outside of time and common acceptability.

Friday, April 2, 2010

re-work banishes disquiet

'work' is reworked again

Apart from the yellow figure on the left it has had a total repaint.
All along there has been disquiet in my mind and minor adjustments failed to settle that disquiet.
I had even signed it!
But lunch time today saw caution thrown to the wind.
Probably my outing yesterday to London convinced me to overpaint it, and a very good move it proved to be.
That which is just 'all right' is definitely not all right.
For a quick reminder of previous state click here

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Going to Gorky - Tate Modern

Gorky calling.
I respond to the call, I visit Tate Modern to see Gorky and Van Doesburg.
What a treat!
Space, the ability to wander and study great art.
How they balance each other.
I saw Gorky first and wondered at his early studies of the modern masters and then his free launch into free lines and colours. 
Beautiful renderings of landscape and people from his own suggestion of line and colour.

Van Doesburg as a Dadaist rejected all existing art to form a new modern language.
Terrific strident stuff. Sharp and decisive and always spot on the moment.
I must get out more . . . . . .

And, more - the restaurant by the main door does a wonderful Cornish fish stew