Friday, February 25, 2011

Mother: stage 3

Last night I worked on the large 'Mother and child canvas, seen here with a clutch of drawings for me to imbibe. Much of the drawing was revised using Red Ochre, starting with the head, where I returned to the ploy of a head within a head which for the moment solved my problem. Other changes in the drawing occurred and the background design saw the red lifted with straight Cadmium Light Red and a splash of yellow to enliven the whole. 
 . . . . .click for reminder of  stage 2

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Circle Dance drawing

I have had a request for a painting that has 'celebration' as a subject. Thinking this over for the last few days I concluded that this could be a possibility, and, after supper began a few trial drawings.
I draw small development sequences taking forward the items that please me. Early thoughts on music and instruments gave way to dancing figures, before long they moved into a circle dance formation and became so large they overfilled the space allotted. The subject is somewhat reminiscent of Matisse at this stage but I can live with that.
The idea of a circle dance appeals to me as a community thing as apposed to a performance, thus including all sorts of bodies and abilities in the dance. This is the heart of 'celebration', the inclusion of all regardless.
On the strength of this simple drawing I will prepare a canvas on which to transfer this idea and engage with colour as freely as possible.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My drawings and Isotypes

I have noticed over the last few years that I often revert to drawing figures in a very simplistic fashion, no more than a few shapes or what I would call an 'enclosure'. I have a number of these scattered about and have been unsure how to progress them.
Read More On Saturday last, while drifting around the corridors in that noble establishment the V&A, I stumbled on a room dedicated to the Isotype. Here celebrated as an art-form were the icons that work as signs without words, signs or pictograms that cross all language barriers and work in every culture. It really was 'a moment' for me, and I recognized what those simple drawings I had made were, a sort of isotype.
Having one in the studio half painted I returned to it and simplified it with extended white areas. Finding a balance between the natural line and the machine line and between subtle modulation and flat machine colour is important. Can something this simple work, everything has to work so hard when there is so little.
Looks good to me, but tomorrow is another day

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mother & Child: stage 2

Always the recipe for failure is to define by detail. It is an obtuse thinking that the act of painting requires. Here I seek as much courage as I can to muster in order to choose, mix and apply paint as my heart dictates. Often a series of 'tries' or experiments are the methods I employ, my removal of attempts feed my understanding more than my successes. At a certain point I sense the session is over, there is nothing more, time to put aside for awhile.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Looking at the Land again

While in Derbyshire last year I made a number of drawings at three sites. They were Arbor Low Henge, A bend in a road, and a place called Brunt. I have four pencil revisions of my impression of this landscape while parked on the verge on a cold winter day, they are just simple line drawings. This prospect and the 'bend in the road' drawing remain with me, it is as if I must give it time and attempt to paint them both. Today I managed two A5 watercolours of which this is one. I have two S/H canvases that are this format, waiting propped against the wall.

The valley and the diamond shaped field is formal and balanced. The rendering is rather dated, but nevertheless pleasing. I need to think how an oil painting could work. It will I suspect need more watercolour studies to assist my thinking, to enable me to engage with these open spaces in a meaningful way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Reflections on the Baroque

This beautiful Baroque frame was destitute, broken and on it's way to a landfill site. Even though it is only a cast reproduction I took pity on it, next thing it found it's way into my workshop to be repaired. A new canvas was made for it and I wondered how could I best use this surprise acquisition?
It is the antithesis of everything we do now. Could I possibly paint anything that would be compatible, anything to marry this surround.

Today I thought about Antoine Watteau, arguable one of histories greatest painters. I pulled a book of the shelf and revisited his work, it is exquisite. All along the only subjects that had suggested themselves for the frame were flowers or a head, in the light of Antoine Watteau I settled on the head. His colours were so often Cerulean, Red Ochre and Silver-Pinks. It was possible that these I could transfer to my time and they may prove to be the conssumation of the union I had planned. With a drawing from the Spanish Sketchbook I quickly laid in the idea with two colours, Red Ochre and Cerulean Blue. At this point it holds.   

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eugene Delacroix and my new drawings

While in Lewes recently I visited the secondhand bookseller A & Y Cumming and picked up a copy of Curt Badt's little book on Eugene Delacroix's drawings. It is an inspirational text about the work of a man who is regarded as one of the first 'moderns'. The author draws from Delacroix's own journal writings - speaking of 'inspirational rage', 'the preciseness of imagination' and 'without boldness, extreme boldness, no beauty can be discovered'. The book discusses passion joined to analysis and how Delacroix devised a new way of drawing by 'grasping the centre' and 'avoiding the outline' All very engaging material and it saw me reading and re-reading the old glossy pages that I had acquired for just a fiver.
    Filled with energy and optimism I began to draw, I am continuing development of the mother figure featured in a January post with a view to painting some larger oils next week.
    Check out the new drawings
A dedicated 'set' on flickr shows the six  new works to date.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New work from old drawings

This I painted yesterday. It was developed from two pages of drawings that I had always been attracted to but as yet had been unable to use. I am interested in the stacking of interlocking shapes and colours that will reference the mind towards a recognition. While it could be seen as rather dated as a concept, I find these side-steps in method do stimulate movement in the practical discipline of painting.

I have considered making it as a sculptural piece, but in the meantime will make further adjustments to this piece as it dries. There is also the possibility of another painted version that employs a sense of three dimensional form but without resorting to external light to explain it. Such limitations for me always expands creativity.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Black Plate development

To paint a plate is an interesting diversion for me. Looking back in time there are so many brilliant works on ceramics that to attempt it is very daunting, but nothing ventured nothing gained.
Leaping, the motif on this plate is a revival on an idea I used in the 90's was, I thought, well suited to the circular format. This example was achieved with emulsion paint drizzled on the terra cotta pan (plate) using an off white colour that was in turn covered with three coats of black gesso. When rubbed back to reveal the drawing and lightly sealed it arrived at the stage we see above.
The satin finish of the sealer used does rather mimic a ceramic 'slip' in what appears to me,  an unsatisfactory way.  Using a matt seal instead, will I believe, uncouple them from that association and enable them to stand in their own strength.
This one works well in monochrome, another one with two standing figures may be improved with the addition of some raw sienna, While I consider the problem, I work elsewhere until I know.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chequers, my next move.

This piece continues to engage me. Partly, because it is mysterious in its content. The figure arrangement seemed to dictate itself, apart from slight revisions the positions and gender remains the same. There is no implied message as far as I am concerned that the males(?) appear to be playing the game, it is incidental as far as this composition goes. I always wanted the left hand figure (gender?) to be disinterested. The woman behind holds a classic pose and could easily be smoking and some interaction is occurring between the right hand couple.

There is some ambiguity between the flatness of the background and the painted form of the figures which I feel adds some tension to the image. Most problematic during the painting was how to paint the figures, should clothes be drawn or not, what colours should they be? Also the vexed question of faces or no? The injection of dry colour to the backdrop forced milder hues into the figures and at this stage of development faces will make an appearance later.

Observations and responses to this and other works are welcome

Thursday, February 3, 2011


New website changes

in the short term there will be some issues with hyperlinks,
those above this blog have been redirected to as near as possible on the new website.

I will have it all fixed asap

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oyster Framing

After four weeks with the doors closed to customers Oyster Framing is back in business with a whole new interior. The workshop and consulting area have had a complete revision of spaces and flow to improve the look and efficiency. I share this with you, not only because Martin (my son) is Oyster Framing, but also because of my being invited there for most of January in my capacity as carpenter-joiner. It was fun, a continual flow of ideas scribbled on cardboard that were rapidly transcribed into reality, then sorting out what was ergonomic sense over against aesthetic values and so on - all beautifully enhanced with coffee and chocolate wagon wheels.

As a reward I did get to show some work in the new gallery space, work drawn from a number of years, note the dancer above (and below) that has appeared again on the retail market after a some while.

Martin and I are both about to launch new websites tomorrow, always a rather fraught activity but as with workshops, collaboration pays off every time. My longer term objective is to integrate my 'Park Road Studio Blog into the site itself and to construct a better searchable database for my art images - this as you will notice will not all happen at once!
see Oyster at