Friday, July 29, 2011

London calling

What a resource, two days in London take a lot of digesting.
for instance . . . .
for quickness and size I slip 'Fables by Schedrin' in my pocket, (an old 1941 ed) written before the revolution they were radical and forbidden, passing Riddlesdown I am in the window reading 'The Ram who could not remember'
Coffee and cake in a side street family cafe and soon I am drifting through Nash's grand rooms in that Royal pile at the end of Pall Mall. excited by Topolski in a corridor, the scale is biblical, then Titan, Rembrandt and Rubens wash over me unexpectedly in the picture gallery; they are profound. The whole p(a)lace and garden is a removed and distinct other world - suddenly we are spat out under the watchful eye of a policeman on to Constitution Hill.
We catch a bus in Piccadily to Aldwych and buy brushes in Drury Lane, Russel & Chappel sell me 'Scenic Fitches' , flats with IL FAMOSO PENNELLO on the black gloss handles and new 'da vinci' riggers that I love.
The view from the ninth floor is of the city and beyond, I read a little more Schedrin. Supper is French in an open window off Longacre before Chekhov at The NT,  walking back across the river we watch people, and take in the night air.
We delay breakfast and eat scones and coffee in the Morris room at the V&A. then bathe ourselves in treasures, more wood than gold, and more Terra cotta than silver - so is my preference.
I select 'The life of Isamu Noguchi' from the bookshop after lunch, wander in the Early Medieval aisles before catching the C1 to Victoria.
I am now very full.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Woman with red hair

This piece has been unfinished for weeks. Just lacking . . . something. It was lacking a face for a start and that was a major obstacle - a face or not?
To begin my re-entry into the painting I squared up the dress and the sofa arm in pencil and painted the white dots. I tried colour on the sofa but in the end wiped it leaving only the stain, that in itself was enough.
After a number of attempts I settled on this face, making it as direct as possible.
Simplicity is the power of this painting and the muted colour is lifted by the subtle whites that work unnoticed.
It's about 60cm square and will be shown at the autumn studio show.  For now though, I think I'll hang it in the house!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Interior light

Clearing up studio's can be a good thing.
Today, while on a mission to reduce the muddle that has accumulated around me I found this painting in a folder of old work. Probably painted about five/six years ago and at the time unsure of its worth. Seeing it again I am still intrigued by it, so much so I have pinned it up in the studio to see it over time.
The balance of colours and forms are quite agreeable.
As I stare at it, light, with considerable luminosity flows from within a form that enjoys considerable ambiguity. Without any reason for adjustment, it will be left to itself for now.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Temporary homes

The Arcadia series of eight paintings is at last complete. Now with their wings attached they were finished but rather vulnerable, so some storage and transport solution was called for.
I acquired some large sheets of thick cardboard from which I made eight trays and eight lids, where, for now the paintings can sit snugly until they find a permanent home.
Two have been selected as part of a special showing of my work at The Redleaf Gallery in Tunbridge Wells in September and when I last spoke to Nicholas Hills 'Arcadia 09' was to feature on the invitation. Meantime, I have cleared a space on a shelf for all of them, knowing they are safe in their own custom made, brown cardboard boxes, and I can move on.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A bold move

This drawing pleases me.
I have just had it framed in a thin dark aluminium frame with a thick museum mount and it looks very handsome.
Strength of design and a confident line carry the idea with simplicity. No line is superfluous, no more is needed to explain the idea. I can follow the lines and intersections without disappointment. The left hip and thigh is drawn with precision showing bones and muscle with utter economy, then lines zig-zag up to a diagrammatic head and shoulders that in turn speak volumes.
It's a one off.
If only I could do this more often and then have the courage to frame them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A working head

The earlier state of this is 'the gentle head' and after some initial revisions it was left to one side. Today, with most of my Redleaf show work resolved and images for the exhibition invitations settled with the gallery, I could turn my attention to other things. This wooden low relief called me and I dabbled around with paint reducing the rather strong tones. In this way I re-entered the Psalm Project to which this piece belongs. The summer plan is to revive work on this for the October Studio show with a real attempt to develop ideas that were conceived earlier this year.
This variety of working methods enables me in a creative way - allowing movement of thought and unclogging mental blockage.

Friday, July 15, 2011

32 pins

The Arcadia series have stalled bit. At the last mention I planned some wings instead of frames, and these had been made in a flurry of workshop activity. Now the 16 wings for the 8 pictures need 32 copper pins to join the together. I have some copper rod in the workshop and proceed to drill the wings to accommodate the pins, then glue pin and wing together. I must do this before finishing the wings in case I damage the delicate surface putting back to square one.
First it is grain filler, rub down, then a couple of coats of white emulsion and rub down again checking for missed flaws. After addressing these details I strain some emulsion using a nylon stocking into a clean dish. I am using the colour 'soft antelope' which I then thin with water to minimise brush marks. The drawback of thin paint is lack of coverage so three or four coats are needed and coat of thinned acrylic varnish. This will be 'knocked back' with fine wire wool and polished for the final look.
I like to expand my work in this way - it is needful in order to maintain the excentric nature of the pieces - making them extraordinary, and a little wonderful to see.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dancing Girls

Even when I'm playful - I'm serious.
I roughed this in the other night just for fun. Looking at it later it stood up quite well, well enough to tinker with it some more. A minor adjustment to the upper half backgound colour and a tweak to the tonal range of limbs and heads. I believe the pay-off for working in series is the deeper understanding of the motif that allows play to be serious all at once.

Monday, July 11, 2011

six dancers

This is the final state of a canvas that was featured earlier with the title 'cloud nine', but has seen considerable reworking. The linked hands in a ring take one straight to H. Matisse, but apart from the hands, the figures and the colours belong to me as the result of a long journey of revision. There is a strange weightless feel about the piece and I am unable to place the music they are dancing to.
The figures are now softer in treatment and the space is stronger in colour while simpler in design, these changes make the picture somewhat curious and difficult to judge as to its success, all I understand is that I see no further adjustment neccesary,  I can only assume it is now complete.

Friday, July 8, 2011

trio on blue

This is the latest version - the Ultramarine tint setting up the simple browns and grays in the figures. By interlocking the arms I insert emotional content into these altered dancers that speaks of humanity. But primarily it is a play of line and colour - a game for the eye, a conversation with reality that catches me every time. How the colouring arrangement fails to describe anatomy and yet explains everything I find entertaining for the mind.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Art can get very serious.
In order to defuse this overblown 'importance' the injection of fun is great - especially here where I paint R.& J. over the top of an cerebral abstract that had become a little boring - and I can laugh again.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Grand Rond de Jambe

Ballet is a precise business - constant reference to the textbook line is of the essence. Yet like playing music and drawing the figure, to be bound by the detail is to remove every ounce of life from the result. Finding the balance between accuracy and lightness of touch is the nature of the work, so it is with this painting.
I do hope the lively brushwork and the outline sit happily together.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Arcadian wings

My series of small oil panels 'Arcadia' had run into framing problems as mentioned in an earlier blog due to the rounded edges and unusual nature - they defied framing and needed some additional finish.
Yesterday it occurred to me that wings could well solve the problem, and mocked up some cardboard to judge effect and sizes. It looked good, and even better when the external corners were given small rounds to reflect the rounded panels. The panel measures 10 x 15 cm so it seemed natural to make the wings 10 x 5 cm. They will be attached to the panels with copper rod drilled and glued to give a 5mm space between panel and wing. Made of plywood with a chamfered edge to reduce apparent bulk they will have a satin off white paint finish.
With sixteen wings to make it became a mini production line in the workshop, all made, rounded and pre-drilled before coffee. The paint finish will take a little longer.