Friday, October 29, 2010

Leigh Oberle

Notes to myself before drawing Leigh Oberle

stretches of different sorts
enforced immobility
command v woman
pronounced sternum
(above the breasts)
waistband cuts
distinctive fingers and toes
Mrs. Oberle
her mother
a child
a developed child
knuckles - elbows - wrists - sternum
(hard points)
(plus cheek nose chin)
soft meets soft
body to chair
'placed' soft!
well observed - lifeless
life study
dead life   still life
no life
cream - white - flesh - hair - chair
equal the parts  not the life
the attempt to fix time
- to stop life
she breathes and time passes
the static form a substitute for life
the soft/hard form is woman/mother
the mobile soft hard form is woman
seams over breasts
buttons over belly
feet to run, hands to do
the effort of being still
fighting natural movement
(wherein is life)
how to draw life
'frozen' movement
frozen life is cold
'caught' (trapped more like)
The eye is a stupid organ
the servant of the mind
how to decode the messages
passed from eye to brain
to tap the depths of the optic message
to draw the minds function
cleverness - inventiveness - originality
but is it possible
to fix the woman on the page
the vision (Leigh) is common to all
but only I see Leigh as I do
my drawing is more convention and me
than Leigh
yet my view of Leigh is . . . .
           me  +  Leigh
'view' is not then optics but personal
dissatisfaction with optics + mannerisms
I’m to draw the minds perception
not the image on the retina
seeing, is this chemical/electrical
never the less based on experience
                   retinal experience!
the dream is a chemical re-run
                   of a retinal image
the mind adds to vision experience/emotion
it screens complex vision then adds
much exp. and em.sourced in first instance from retina
stored retinal images
they are added direct without playback to give total image experience

object then is to induce the mind to playback previous retinal tapes + add in to vision!

John Scarland
East Grinstead

Thursday, October 28, 2010


words and image from 12th Jan 2005

yesterday a dark day, today a clearer light
sowed lettuce on the kitchen window sill

the folly of wealth
the slavery of luxury

my dismay is connected to this folly
joy is the rejection of folly

to come from under it’s yoke
Elisha’s fire of yoke wood before release

Servitude to the interior is deep
Awareness is the danger of freedom

(five years on and I find it hard to penetrate my thinking from this January day, but I do remember painting it and can well understand how I felt.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Zennor drawings

Zennor 01

While on the Penwith Peninsula in Cornwall I visited the famous Zennor hamlet.  I am much taken by this position while driving past and when I get in position it does nor disappoint.   Leaning my pad on a large granite boulder I made a series of drawings, this is the first.

 Looking down towards a lane that rises towards the more distant church the drawing encapsulated the dynamics present within the hamlet. These high energy lines do much to hold the idea that is Zennor.

Maintaining this energy in later work is key. This is an energy that must be transferred, and this transfer is where it so often dies.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

come away

A little aside for today
following a request
20 x 20

singing on demand
saps life
recycled thought
can save a day

here are two
pink and sienna
lines and

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Potteries

Bernard Leach

One of my enduring memories of St Ives was visiting the now abandoned potteries where Bernard Leach set up his remarkable 'Art & Crafts' factory. After being involvemed at Dartington and working in Japan to study oriental skills, slips and glazes he returned to St Ives to set up this very special Japanese style kiln.

Anyone interested in a pot or a jug must have seen Leaches work, his exquisite forms are very evident.
The simplicity of life and style of work is still evident in these workshops.
There was no desire for cleverness, innovation or slick creativity, they aimed for a 'rightness' in a pot. An ancient quality that carries an internal authenticity. The work breathes a rare quality over time.

The restored 16mm films running there show the apprentices, assistants and the master working and talking in these very rooms and on these wheels. A beautiful and sympathetically arranged set of rooms that remain with me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Peter Lanyon

solo flight 1960

Peter Lanyon at the Tate

By a wonderful co-incidence, the Peter Lanyon exhibition opened at the Tate just as we arrived. As a St Ives man he was at one with the Penwith Peninsular - landscape as such was his thing. 
The rugged land, irregular enclosures for fields, mines beneath, while above the wind blows and birds hang on the rising air around granite stacks at the bottom of the cliff. 
This was the source material for these powerful works that we witnessed on the walls.
Trevalgan, St Just, Botallak were the titles, we saw these places and felt the power of the place and the works.
Here was another man engrossed, immersed and devoted to his calling.

. . . making the transition from place to paint is painful, but sublime.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Barbara Hepworth

Visiting the Hepworth studio and garden was not what I expected. I went because I was in St Ives and it came bundled in with the Tate entrance ticket.  But I was surprised as I stepped into this little world.

It was so small, personal and homely. The trees in the garden now rather too big in scale for the sculptures, almost hiding them, giving the place an unpretentious feel.
The large stock of marble waiting to be used, ordered in by the elderly Hepworth was a lesson in itself. Her industry and determination was palpable.

Her work that always contained a sense of being open and enclosed at the same time chimed with me and some of my forms. The soft organic curves have warmth and energy that reflect the female maker. There is no senses of weakness, they are strong, resolved and complete. Very satisfying. 

I felt encouraged and strengthened by the hour in her rooms, that even after so many years in silence, spoke to me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

the Penwith Peninsular

We have returned from an excursion to the Penwith Peninsular, that wild extremity of the South West.
Staying in an old fashioned hotel on the beach in the bay where Ben Nicholson lived, I find tropical plants & old leather sofas in the conservatory where I can sit to read within earshot of the Atlantic. The place is Carbis Bay, close to St Ives.

The locality is steeped in art, Lanyon, Hepworth, Leach, Heron, Wallis, Garbo, Nicholson all worked here and have left their mark on the place. Just two days after traveling was a short time to take it in - but we did our best, seing The Tate, Hepworth, Leach, visiting Lanyon's St Just for cream tea and S/h books, drawing at that evocative hamlet of Zennor and buying new plants in an extraordinary nursery in Penzance. 

October was good to us, more parking and lots of sunshine.
 Now with my head full of new things, I return to work.

Monday, October 18, 2010


pictures at an exhibition (circa 1995)

The show is now all packed away, the lights are down and the temporary screens in store. Just two or three pictures yet to be collected by their new owners to complete the action.

Thanks to all who found their way here to look at the recent work. I was so pleased with the enthusiasm from visitors, most encouraging.

A number of new contacts and opportunities occurred and these are being followed up with interest.

The next show is booked for the 5 - 11 of May 2011, I think I need to make a list . . . .

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Teaching art

Saturday dawned cloudy.
This afternoon I am booked to demonstrate oil painting.
How can this be done?
It is not a performance, it is serious.

I am still booked, how to do it?
My chosen subject is 'urban landscape'
I trawl my files and select the M2 at Rochester as above
with the car loaded I travel to the coast.

The hall fills up.
I discover I have left my palette in the studio!
so I must improvise
when introduced - they clap (I am uncomfortable)

I explain the impossibility of the task
all I can do is put some colours down
 . . then one or two ask questions
and others go to sleep.

I mix colours and apply it with a rag
within a bowl it is made thinner . . 
They are silent, too silent.
but enough magic occurs to give me confidence

Half time - my tea is served
A few really appreciate the approach
some are excited
I am relieved

Oil sticks rescue the piece with drizzled turps.
they clap (again)
I smile and nod - then I retreat with dirty brushes
and this image.

Friday, October 15, 2010

good days and bad days

Looking back over posts I detect the conscious effort to remain positive. 
This is a plan. 
But it is not the whole truth.
Some time ago I painted this picture, it is titled 'Good days and Bad days' because here I have painted the changing moods of sequential days. 
It shows how our spirits rise and fall within, something that is fairly common to everyone, but here I have tried to give some visual aspect to this rather subjective phenomena. 
While much of the forces that drive these fluctuations are outside of my control, by recognizing them in these images means I can roll with them when needed, and perhaps at other times, refuse to be led astray into dark places!
However you may see these mood swings day to day, these images still work for me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

new designs

I have a bit of time.
In fact I need to clear a space for a while.
Circling in the back regions of my creativity is an ongoing project, 
the need to revamp our church interior.

We have contractors coming to insert a new ceiling soon,
so this would be the time.

I have been making drawings - and
others will be consulted, my
ideas will have to be accepted and approved.

Can we make this really exciting?
They do say 'the media is the message'
A space to match the message, 
one that is dynamic.

This calls for ideas and communication!
This becomes interesting . . . . . .

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

James Turrell

In that ubiquitous newspaper The Metro, I noticed this morning a new show at the Gagosian in Brittania Street by non other than James Turrell.
Coming away from that overwhelming Picasso show I could not imagine a follow up that could engage me anything like that Picasso show did. Then up pops Turrell. 
I recall years ago reading about Turrells work on light in the desert, his observatory built in the Roden Crater that collects pure light in a remarkable way. On my list of adventures is a pilgrimage to that very place.
Then Turrell comes to London, I think I may pay him a visit!

From the Gagosian website I quote since the early 1970s, Turrell has worked to transform the Roden Crater in Arizona into a naked-eye observatory that reconceives the landscape as a multisensory experience. This epic project is represented in the exhibition by a series of eight carbon prints that utilize the earliest of nineteenth-century color-photographic methods. Composed of powdered pigment, the prints depict various details and perspectives of the Roden Crater project. Two bronze and plaster models representing the “North Moon Space” area of the observatory will also be on view. 

Through light, space can be formed without physical material like concrete or steel. We can actually stop the penetration of vision with where light is and where it isn't. Like the atmosphere, we can't see through it to the stars that are there during the day. But as soon as that light is dimmed around the self, then this penetration of vision goes out. So I'm very interested in this feeling, using the eyes to penetrate the space.

--James Turrell

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oxalis calling

With gardening there is a moment, a moment when a thing should be done. 
In the garden the time and the weather can make a job pleasant, easy and successful. 
Never mind being just enjoyable. 

I have been planting Oxalis in amongst Hosta and Hearts-tongue fern. Under a spreading Oak tree, it is a difficult place to keep a visual interest going all year round, it being so dry and impoverished. This small 'clover' will provide a new shape and a new green when the Hosta has died down in  the winter. It is very spreading but in these adverse conditions its invasive nature should be neutralized.

So the October sun calls me outside, I knock out the pots and split the plants into two's and three's and plant them in a long and sprawling patch among the other plants.
It is indeed a 'just right' moment

This harmony with weather, soil and opportunity is very satisfying. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

wet and dry

Now and again I do a bit of teaching.
Not that regular - just as I feel the urge.
During some moments as I was waking up, I had a thought.
A teaching session on the contrasting merits of wet and dry pigment could be interesting.
There is on the one hand the fine control of dry lines, then the tidal effects of poured liquid, the contrast between line washed and lines not washed, and so on and so forth.
How water intensifies charcoal and how waterercolour integrates with lines. All gripping stuff to the artist. 

This could prove dynamic for the person and for the painting. 

After setting up the session it has proved popular, anyway there are only two places left, So if you want to come along, be quick!   click to check it out

Sunday, October 10, 2010

body and soul

The recent days and weeks ramping up to yesterdays Studio show have been quite frantic, but yielded many visitors, good sales and new opportunities. Always after this saturation of exposure and self promotion I collapse in a bit of an emotional heap! Some sort of restoration is always necessary.   

My watercolour above is a depiction of the soul (circular and eternal) within a body (beautiful structure). Sunday is my day set aside for the maintenance of my spirit and for God - That ancient text from Psalm 23 comes to mind 'He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul may be familiar to you. Keeping Body and Soul together is quite a knack, they both need attention. 

Life is a wonderful thing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

outlook: sunny

The wine is in the chiller, and the sun shines on Park Road Studio!
Not only is all ready to go, Friday has been good news as well.
A number of clients visited today and two sales have steadied the nerves.

But already my mind is rushing on to what could be next.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Show glow

The excitement builds!
After 20 years of mounting exhibitions I find find the tension and the excitement is always the same. For most years since May 1989 I have been having Studio Shows twice a year, That's around 40 shows to date! 

Already a trickle of visitors by appointment have been to see the show and gentle sales have begun. The idea of having only one day open to the public and one week before and afterwards by appointment is a new idea that is catching on well. By giving people personal 'slots' means I can spend time with them talking and explaining about modes and methods, so if you want to come and cannot make Saturday just give me a call and come next week instead. 

My visitors today have been asking questions about the teaching program that has slipped. If this also interests you do talk to me about this if you visit the show or email me to request info on new sessions that may be planned in the future. 

My reward as the artist is to see my work presented and hung to show them off. Lighting, framing and position all support the paintings and I am encouraged to see them glowing and looking their best. Even as I walk round the show my mind is already beyond, thinking, planning and having ideas about the future. But for now, I am here to reflect on what has been achieved in the summer of 2010.