Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back to #13

Last Monday I worked on this idea and made a good start
on reflection I considered it too open and horizontal in appearance
The early ink drawing suggested a tighter, upright form.
I worked through 40-50 drawings to re-work the idea to very little avail, hence my rather unproductive day yesterday.

I made this revision today, late afternoon after reducing the idea to 4 pieces.
It still remains wrong, just wrong.

I took a knife and cut away the triangle reducing it to 3 pieces, and with a pencil scribbled another 5 extensions to the problem, one of which is reproduced below.

On reflection I have serious reservations about the suggestion of arms and a bowed figure, but the reduction as a general idea pleases me.
More drawings, another model and a colour revision is tomorrows task  

I must revisit the text (Psalms) to imbibe the sense, to fill up with a feeling that can be poured out in form.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Czech beer and red cabbage

Here is an ink drawing of a workbench
it sums up the idea of tools and a work station.
I like it very much.

I remind myself of the little drawing to cheer my spirits for the day has yielded very little of any worth.
All wrong headed and fruitless efforts.
My bench can rest quiet tonight as the temperature drops with the fading light.

Pete is coming for supper . . . .
Ruth is cooking beef casserole and Red Cabbage with onions and garlic.
Pete will bring rations of Czech beer in his haversack and we will talk about everything.
So the day is not so bad and tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

e-bay opportunity

'Stars on Canvas' is a charity effort for the Willow Foundation,
It is on e-bay waiting for your bids! 
With lots of others to browse through you can choose from Richard Long
to Stephen Fry with loads in between.
Mine is 'Come away" as shown above and is worth lots and lots!
so go check out John Scarland on ebay for a bargain piece

Friday, November 26, 2010

Drawing 43

Drawing #43

The later drawing were more and more abstract.

How to translate them into form presented some difficulties, but the idea of inserting material into a vitrine could be the answer.

Some years ago I was commissioned to make a glass door with painted glass. By fitting the glass with two sheets of glass, I was able to paint half the image on each sheet, then as one moved the images also moved in relation to each other with interesting effects.

Here I will use a similar ploy, painting on the glass front and back and this time inserting items suspended in the vitrine as the rough and ready movie tries to show.

These models I have made this week are to help me to make assessments before committing to a larger and more finished work. The question of size and material is at present unresolved.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Here is Psalm drawing #16.
It was the last drawing in the first session and I remember it as promising.
I have spent a long time drawing and re-drawing this one. The issue was the striped band that connects the two upper forms and the rather phallic top on the right hand upright that was so dominant. 

In the today's wooden model (two views below) the connecting strip has been removed and the upright form has been modified to a sort of half-tulip that works better. I have not coloured them as I need to appreciate the form in its simple state. 

I see the forms in conversation, an intimate dialogue.
The rather 'Bilbo Baggins' feel of the wooden model needs to be changed, bringing it closer to the more futuristic look seen in the ink drawing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

wobbly vulnerability

#3 the psalm project

This, the third of 45 drawings that were made to launch the project gives me a number of messages.
A smallness and wobbly vulnerability resonated with my own sense of being. The simple decorated top could read as a shield and/or a reflection, both references would work for me and my reading of the psalms.

The wire and card model below followed a series of small development drawings. The legs to be in iron rod with riveted joints and the top, perhaps wood with enamel colours.

The change in proportions is unsatisfactory, there is more work to do, any possible likeness to an ironing board must be eradicated!
Its anthropomorphic reference is intended and acceptable.

psalm model #3. galvanized wire and painted card

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Response #22

This is an Indian ink drawing #22 from the Psalm response idea book
The initial wooden model below shows up the missing black, this may or may not be an issue.

I see the two plinths in stone and the horse like form in black iron (two pieces and riveted at the neck) 
Iron and stone (granite) will work much better than wood because I am feeling a sense of strength from the drawing that is lost in the model.

The simple form has an ancient Etruscan feel.
Some Psalms carry a gathered strength, a robust belief that the ancients communicated.
I think I want this piece to exhale some of that sense.

#22 wooden model

Monday, November 22, 2010

Psalm response

This is drawing #13 from the idea book
one of five I have selected to work from
It has that curving ascendancy that I like.
A suggestion of dynamic forms that look promising.
I make some working drawings

Here with a certain amount of liberty I revise with the possibilities of construction in mind. It is now an assembled construction as apposed to a carved form, but its subsequent lightness is acceptable.
Size and colour unresolved I move on to make a model.

Using wood, card and a glue gun I assemble a small prototype so I can view it in the round. 
My assessment must compare the model with my original response to the Psalm and judge its success in that context rather than being carried away with its latest form.
My first thoughts are positive, but I will put it to one side while I develop the next four to this stage and judge the group together.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Window Shopping

Things warm up before the Redleaf show!
There is some excellent work by many artists here for Nicholas Hills fine Christmas show.
but . . I actually get my work in the window - exciting stuff.

Here the warmth of Conil Beach cheers a November day in Tunbridge Wells.
 . . . and the enormous 'swimming' is awash inside, I just hope the folks at the preview next Friday like them and the other eight on display.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eating the profits

On the first floor of this building in Tunbridge Wells is a restaurant, I have observed it for some time and wondered what happened beyond those ornate windows.

Having sold a picture last week I decided we needed to experiment with this fine traditional Italian establishment called Signor Franco.

We climbed the stairs at lunchtime today, and when ushered to the window table, basked in the afternoon and enjoyed and excellent and very expensive lunch! Now and again one needs a good lunch, it make you feel again.

So, eating the profits? Sure, but we will remember the watercolour I sold and we will remember the day we ate at Signor Franco.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creative moments

The development of a new thread in work is not straightforward.
Having a clear idea about 'will to work' is one thing - making proper work from the will is another. This watercolour was painted last night in a creative moment and may possibly work as a visualization of a concept within the grand scheme.

Openness to the new needs a level of alignment to the vision, while repetition of the old is unable to carry the work forward. Progress is uneven and judging the worth of new production must be intuitive.  

Creative moments are elusive, they are not available on demand but must be nurtured. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Me and Panofsky

Erwin Panofsky

This man is a serious writer. I have had a copy of his 'Perspective as a Symbolic Form' for a few years without reading it.

As a stimulus and a stirring of the grey matter I decided to master it.
He draws on a mass of learning that I find bewildering, but with a few reference books to hand I stick with it.

It is about  the intellectual and perceptual understanding of the ages as read from the art of the time. Because the referencing of the emotional aspect of art will vary so much person to person he chooses a study of perspective because it is a science with a more rational and consistent response. 

Much is discussed about 'will to art' - that transfer from the artist's sense to his work, The connection that guides his method and subject to his person and context. 

Working through the great ages of art he concludes with a summing up that contains this sentence, 'It is thus no accident if this perspectival view of space has already succeeded twice in the course of the evolution of art: the first time as the sign of an ending, when antique theocracy crumbled; the second time as the sign of a beginning, when modern "anthropocracy" first reared itself'

Now this poses some problems for me having just toured the anthropocratic galleries of the Saatchi foundation seeing their vigourous and unrestrained promotion of the cause. With my centre of gravity firmly in the theocratic camp and my setting out on a new project 'Psalm' just how am I to project my 'antique' concepts on to modern anthropocracy with any success?

Referring back to Reigl's 'will to art' that was a cradle for Panofsky's work I must conclude, by the same token,  that my belief and context, when held together must generate art that will authentically reference my position. To what degree I can convince the tidal wave of modern anthropocracy that the antique theocratic cause is still valid remains to be seen. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Show invitation

'Walking together' oil by John Scarland

I was pleased that this oil painting was featured on the back of the Redleaf Gallery 2010 Christmas Exhibition. Situated in Castle street off the High Street in Tunbridge Wells this Fine Art Gallery has shown my work for some time with a very positive response.

I was even more pleased when Redleaf called me today telling me this piece has now been reserved and can I give the client a sight of the real thing later this week. Rest assured, this and other works are all ready wrapped and waiting to be delivered and perhaps lunch out would not go amiss.

Why not join us at the opening . . . .

1 Castle Street
Tunbridge Wells

Private view
Friday 26 November at 6.00pm

Gallery open
Tues - Fri 10.30 - 5.00pm
Sat 10.00 - 5.00pm

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saatchi Gallery

Great perfected being (detail)  Peter Linde Busk

Art Now

A visit to the Saatchi Gallery has been on my list for some time, today it happened.
A serious top end space and free entry

The work on show is very new.
It is powerful, original and striking. I was impressed by the art on show and the way it was presented. 

New generation thinking is abundant - Leaving Tate Modern behind.
It is current - continuing seamlessly from the newspaper I read on the train.

Context is now. 
Content is pomo 

This cannot be faked
It is a genuine response to the day that demands an emotional response.

Can I be authentic?
Can I deliver it now?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fire and Iron

I took time out to revisit friends at Fire & Iron
Fire and Iron is a fantastic gallery in Leatherhead that shows iron work at its very best. Lucy Quinnel runs a brilliant place that showcases some very special artists, I love the place. 
I am privaliged to show a few pieces there, (seated woman in painted copper shown above is one) along with a few pictures.
Should you Pass Leatherhead on the M25 it would be a mistake not to visit, only 3 minutes from Junction 9.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Now - my favourite oil paint is is by Michael Harding  
My favourite colour is Cerulean Blue.
It is expensive.
Can you believe it!
Here it is on E-bay!
It seems everything is on e-bay
my measly bid of £6.50 failed
shall I bid more? 
It suggests £7.00 + £3 delivery

I am going to do a search for Georges Braque Lithographs now.
wish me luck

Thursday, November 11, 2010

embryonic drawing

psalm : drawing #43

Following on from yesterdays work on the new psalm project
I go to work on completing the book of ideas.

A wild and wet morning blows around the studio
Keith Jarrett plays Bach, I light the incense and decant some Indian ink.

With a view to sculpture, I still hold on to a conceptual approach with the work in hand leaving the translation into an object until later. 

The making of new is easily spoiled by looking sideways at solutions other artists have found. Although I have referred to David Smith and Anthony Caro this morning, but I kept my embryonic drawing flowing from within.

I read more of the text and tried in to overlay its sense with my sense and then continue work believing that consciousness to be enough to guide my hand. 

I now have 45 visual thoughts to consider over the coming days.
some will prove more useful than others.    

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The book of Psalms

Traveling towards me from France in a white transit van is a quantity of seasoned oak in the form of a huge black sideboard. It will be dismantled.
 I have in mind to make five (or so) wooden forms.

Each of these wooden forms will represent the essence of a Psalm
A Psalm is a poetic dialogue between a poet and his maker/protector.

They are charged with a variety of passions
fear, contrition, love, sorrow, joy etc.

As a starting point in the generation of these forms I take an empty drawing book.
With Indian ink I catch a succession of ideas on the empty pages.

Reproduced above is #22 from the 25 I have done so far.
The book has fifty pages.

I began with drawings three dimensional things
but moved on to a more conceptual flavour.

Keeping to the brief is all.
At present, how they will look is unknown

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zennor in colour

Watercolour and pastel

I am becoming accustomed to this work
It attempts a hybrid position,
describing space in conventional terms while the colour and application are more adventurous.
The result is rather restless - it flickers before the eyes. At the same time I can journey round the picture endlessly, being surprised and entertained.

I suspect it is not quite finished. To be finished, not by crushing its spirit, but by understanding and confirming it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The painting of Zennor

This is a detail from my second attempt at Zennor
It is a play of line and tone.
A play that is sourced from the drawing and memory.
I seek an anonymity of tool - and an emblematic choice of pigment deposits.
An exact translation into an unknown language.

I work quickly to prevent cognitive thought taking part,
I dilate feeling and nurture fear.

Indian ink and charcoal: timeless things from the earth
create illusions of light.

Zennor 03

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zennor with friends

Today has been teach day.
We looked at the integration of wet and dry pigments all day. Twelve of us working to improve method and understanding. The day has been beneficial, progress has been made in lots of ways.

As guide for the day I worked on my Zennor drawings along with others seeking to push our grasp of the way pigment can describe land-form. This is no easy task.

Shown above is the first of three achieved today and in measure it works as a rendering of my experience of the place. I found the simple elegance of the church towers in that area very compelling, and very easy to centre my work around them. No less so in Zennor. Here, from above I track the lane through the base of the tower and up into the open sky. A rising atrium.

I have been away from landscape painting for some time, and today has been a timely reunion. Maybe there are new things here for me.

The work is on card, watercolour, Indian ink, and charcoal were used  freely.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pigment power

This morning I must prepare for a teaching day on Saturday.
The theme for the day is 'wet and dry', or how to widen our vocabulary of surface treatment within the painting to give variety and interest. 

Our day will be used to explore this idea by implementing various techniques with both wet and dry pigment, testing both sequence and surface. By starting in black and white it will be easier to concentrate on the mobility of the pigment.

I made three tests to prove to myself how effective this can be, above is a still life using Indian ink with charcoal. Likewise below is a nude study, the landscape has watercolour and pastel added in. 

It looks like a promising day for all concerned.

to see course details click here 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Turrell and Pasta

By train and a 73 bus I make Kings Cross.
As I walk back to Victoria I will make some calls

1.An excellent cafe nr, Britannia St serve me a coffee in the morning sunshine

2.The Gagosian is showing James Turrell and it is a rare thing. Unsure what to expect I first examine pictures of the now famous Roden Crater and then it to see the two items exhibited. All to do with light and ability to reveal itself as  a form effect - I gaze at a beautiful light show the like I have not seen before
The Gallery website says  -  The imageless and formless landscape of Dhatu (2010) yields an emptiness filled with light that allows the viewer to feel its physicality. Light like this is seen rarely with the eyes open, yet it is familiar to that which can be apprehended with the eyes closed in lucid dream, deep meditation, and near-death experiences.  

To be surrounded by changing pastel colour is very strange and somewhat 'heavenly'. like the end sequences of the classic film Space Odyssey 2001.

3. ll Costelletto opp. the British Museum. away from the turmoil a simple pasta in tomato and chili sauce with a near perfect glass of white wine followed by an espresso.

4. The London Review Bookshop (Bury Place) Nice shop, I fall for the new (reprint)  Phaidon work on Kitaj

5.  The Drawings in the British Museum are very fine. A free and uncrowded chance to see the work that underpins some serious painters. No Razzmatazz - just good drawings that I find lift my own self confidence. I study each one and relish them.

6. The White Cube, a disappointment. The building was promising but the contents left me unimpressed.

7. Victoria via green park and Southern Rail whisked me home, A very satisfying Day - Recommended

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


On my recent visit to St Ives I saw the sculptural work of Peter Lanyon and found it rough in a way that I felt was unsatisfactory, compared with Baslitz or Beuys who do 'rough' rather well. 

That aside, so much of Lanyon was about space and about his adherence to the person and principles of Naum Gabo whom he knew in St Ives. 

The work they made was indeed chalk and cheese, if Lanyon liked Gabo's theory, his mode of working was far removed. Lanyon had moved closer to an Abstract Expressionist style akin to the Americans and Gabo a Constructivist, while both sought to describe space dynamics and its relationship to the solid.

As I begin my head series I need to understand my brief and my method of work.
Using the previous studies  'good days & bad days' as a launching pad and selected Psalms as a text it would appear to me a much more Abstract Expressionistic exercise, and yet I am attracted to the work of the constructivist Gabo and I think Carl Andre.

It looks like a bit more thinking, a bit more reading and a lot of drawing is called for in order to solve this dilemma

Monday, November 1, 2010

learning to draw

We have done drawing today.
That's my grandchildren and me

I have never influenced them - 
they just painted and drew.

fun things
till today

we talked about real shapes
how things looked

they said
trés interésent (they're French)

then I remembered when I was 9
in 1956 

In my comic, The Eagle
there was a painting competition 

I painted a picture
and this little boy, won a prize

I still have my prize
54 years later!

We found it
and looked at it together

How things have changed
since I was 9

we laughed
and went for a very muddy walk