Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More trio development

This morning I make six new explorations on large paper with oil, ink and watercolour. Keeping them as powerful and uncomplicated as possible by working on the floor  fairly quickly with generous brushes. The results are as expected rather uneven but as yet only one has been destroyed. These have focused on the pelvic girdle I will spend the evening increasing the scope by including the shoulders and arms. Building up in this way my understanding develops with the drawings and confidence grows with knowledge.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Trio element

These three dancers have been the object of my attention for some time. This rapid oil sketch tests the central horizontal section to see if it holds up as a work in its own right. Apart from the enjoyable result of the 'urgent' application of line and colour I am disappointed with the left hand curve as it lacks interest and the remnants of simplified thighs clogs my appreciation. I look for a sense of the power and control that exists here in the thigh and stomach of the dancer with less of that anatomical remnant. Below I try a reversed gray-scale version, I feel there is more here for me to do.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Trio

Unwilling to relegate my recent 'trio' to a throwback from the '90s I continue to work on the theme. Redrawing it a number times and towards the end working directly on primed ply in pencil. By reducing the legs to major on one vertical leg per dancer the formal qualities are increased and the rather cute girl angle is diminished. The drawing and coloured zones around the hips defines the new piece and it may be the subsequent work on this theme must pick from this point in order to take it further.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

presenting Arcadia

This no. 3 in the 'Arcadia' set - there are eight in all and they can all be seen here
Painted in thin oil with a gloss finish they also have a rounded edge to the panel they have as a ground. This makes them unusual and subsequently an interesting exercise to frame. With quite a clear idea about this I visited the framer but was unable to convince him that this idea would be the best for the picture - and was not encouraged to go ahead with it!
The works look a little paltry when unframed, when framed they look overdressed or overloaded. What to do? With the innovative picture format I am now faced more innovation in the framing, more thinking, more mock ups and more scratching of heads.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Escaping the past is so difficult. Escaping the sheer prettiness of dance is also difficult.
But it is possible that finding myself here will drive something new. If I can pull this composition out of my head, then other things are possible. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dance energy

To dance is an effusion of emotional energy, a natural release of feeling that cannot be contained. The Ballet on the other hand is a carefully planned and prescribed discipline that is mobilized as an art form to be a vehicle for an emotional drama. When I come to draw the ballet, this catalogue of movements however beautiful, limits the 'joy' of the expression. Learning 'steps' and sequences is all part of learning how to dance, or should we say learning how to be seen dancing.
Should my drawing be controlled by set methods of likeness or am I allowed to express joy. Dancing figures drawn in abandoned joy will have an energy that will not conform to the 'lines of ballet.  Are they less beautiful for that?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

dance development

A confession. This scrap of joined paper is the result of 4hrs work.
It is a universal 'known' that development is invariably slow, that progress is hard won. Last week ended with me having a canvas on which were some crude dancers along with two sheets of paper carrying the same idea. This arrangement contained drama, but was in itself unsatisfactory. The afternoon has been employed with watercolour and ink working and re-working the figures over and over with little sucess. After supper I returned to work and with a pencil and after an hour assembled this piece, on reflection it was regarded as worth transferring to the canvas. There is always work, but work I believe is more to be trusted than the lucky break!


This tall painting is, or almost, finished. These oil paintings seem to lurch forwards in unequal steps and then without warning, I see nothing more to do and I assume it is finished. The iconography in the figure structure is familiar - but that is the way things are, a sort of graphic handwriting that only changes slowly. This piece stands about 1.2M high and is quite powerful when seen . . . . . . . the next excitement will be in the framing. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making templates

The new steel sculpture       see steelworks
The first task in hand is to transfer the flat patterns from the maquette to templates for the fabricator to use with a plasma cutter on the steel sheet.
First I used 'photo mount' to make some thin paper tacky and laid it on the curved sections and marked out the actual shape. These I scanned at 100% and using Adobe Illustrator drew 'nice' curves over my traced lines and then overlaid the patterns with 1cm squares.
To achieve a life size figure I need to expand the maquette x4 times. On a sheet of white painted hardboard I draw 4cm squares and plot the curves on to the hardboard. The plasma cutter requires a 4mm inset on the line so I cut the hardboard 4mm small and clean up the edges.
Various folds and weld lines are marked up and all is ready for Peter the fabricator!
Now I need to redesign the plinth and choose some colours.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Warming up for dancers

To revisit old places is dangerous, they may not be as you remember them! My revisiting dance as a subject has brought on some serious conversations with myself. Here is a charcoal, gouache and ink study of two classical dancers and I find the demands of accuracy make the need to return to my old style of work overwhelming.
This exercise will push me into a new place if I am to remain true to myself, bringing this familiar source material up to where I with my current work.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dancing Melinda

As a little light relief, I am working on a series of dance pieces, a series that will be shown at the Redleaf gallery later this summer as an interim one man show. My objective again here is to rework old ground to see how my views on dance work now after a few years away. Always the balance, movement and correctness is important while imbuing the painting with energy and life - this is the brief. How they work out will be seen in the next four weeks!

Monday, June 6, 2011


Today is exciting. I have considered having this small copper piece that I made some years ago made up in steel for the garden and today the dream came one big step nearer. Having spoken to a new contact in all things metal about the issues, folding,welding and finishing - I think it can happen in the near future. This will involve taking paper patterns from the copper, scaling up to life size and then making full size hardboard ones from which to cut the steel. When assembled cleaned back and zinc coated I will be able to apply a paint finish of my choice. So much fun - and the set up event as well. I am expecting it to be in place for our late September show, so be sure to come and see.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Carried away

For two days now I have been working on some oils, This one, is I believe, at a point where I leave it. The motif of being carried has been with me for years and like so many subject from the past they continue to surface. Seen while idly flicking through an old sketch-book I knew at once it was time for a revisit and after redrawing it anumber of times transferred it on to this 20x30 canvas. How to make it work, at what level to communicate realism and where to take liberties is the nature of the game. It carried a number of meanings for me beyond the simple likeness, and the title, once coined in my head, was a fixture. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Originally uploaded by john scarland

hey this is an old one! art as a snapshot of life

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Arcadia on Flickr

Today saw a gloss overlay on all the eight works completed yesterday.
All are now on Flickr should for all to see.  click Arcadia