Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mapping the mind

Hierarchy of thought

To look at a passive form and render it in two dimensions is a real skill.
Add to that the subtleties of light and colour diffusion and we think of Chardin and his like, sublime masters in their genre.
Then as we look at ourselves looking at a form we look at our response to the form - a self awareness that has dialogue with form. To draw that is a different genre.
My Psalm project looks at a dynamic, not a passive form. It considers a personal dialogue with a dynamic form. How to map that consciousness for a retinal reading is a task that is engaging. To this end I have started a small square drawing book to conduct a series of tests of which this is one.
Previous efforts in this area related to Romeo and Juliet as I sought to map the passion of that troubled relationship in some pieces called 'the passion of Romeo and Juliet' with some success. My Psalm project is more internal and more problematic - thus immediately more interesting.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sausages and Psalms

The third dimension

This is a wooden model for bronze resin casting. It is roughed out of oak, a shape derived from the third and last image in today's blog - drawing #16 in my book of Psalm ideas
Always best not to hurry these things, so it rested on a shelf above where I sit for meals - where I can take it in, almost without thinking. Then I saw a sort of 'stiffness' about it that had to be revised. Soon it was on the bench in three pieces to undergo subtle alterations.
I see the book of Psalms as a commentary on conversation, and the reflective gaze was just too confrontational - not engaging with the the mutual rapport I wanted, so they had to be cocked in a simulation of interest. Reassembled and repainted they are back on the shelf for sub-conscious appraisal while I consume sausage and onion gravy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


'The rock'

A disquiet in my mind about the arrangement of this picture caused me to neglect it until now. The frame was retrieved from the garden shed, the predella pieces from the back of a drawer and the main canvas found and all was reunited. By repainting the lower left and splashing in an idea for the predella it all began to look better.  
I look at these pictures and wonder what to write about them, one thing though - that little table with a jug on it - it has appeared in my work continuously for twenty years, and if you look back you will see them in occurring various shapes and sizes. They may have deeper significance than I am aware of.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012



Late reworking is often needed - this afternoon I rework the mother completely and it is improved, and, with the sky now recoloured I feel now there is little left to do.
Always surprising how suddenly completion is sensed after so much time is spent in a state of flux.
So there, let it be for now. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Catching fishes

Catching fishes for my tea.

Finding food and then cooking it for a meal is an enduring thing - simple things like found blackberries in an apple pie are wonderful.
Simplicity we love - if we have the time!
This little oil is simple and I hope captures simplicity.
It took some time to do. There were revisions, adjustments and modifications to form and colour.
The title taken from the nursery song compliments the idea

Friday, February 17, 2012

Woman by a window

A little piece that happened by itself.
Sometimes I toil away at pieces - others like this seem too easy.
I resist the temptation to clarify, it is its own statement.
there are issues - I don't care.
- on primed ply it measures about 35cm sq.
It is 'Woman by a window' by John Scarland © 2012
and its journey into the world has just begun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

two friends

Colour and form
This picture has arrived, after some time. Now complete it colour development has been quite slow.
The video below tracks the colour changes which show the increase of complexity and colour combinations over time. One can only trust the intuitive response to trial and error that sometimes are rapid and other times are painfully slow. Either way it boils down to how I feel about the result - does it please me.
The figures are so large they fill the image (I wanted that)
The figures are so flat and interlocking (yes, I am pleased about that)
The colour is lively without being garish, - Yes thats fine
There is a monumental feel about it draws you in  - but is it comfortable?
So watch the video - what do you think?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A light touch

The beauty of being an artist is that you can do what you like. Indeed that is required of you, but there is pressure from others to do this or that - like you did before, but its more fun to paint exactly what whim tugs your elbow. The drawing from The British Museum in a recent blog now appears in base colours and already I am amused. Free painting is the best, and here on this small canvas there is no pressure or sense of importance, so play is the order of the day. The Tiepolo sky had been laid in earlier so it was just a matter of dashing some trees in and blocking in the figures with some red that was on the palette.

Lightness of spirit equals lightness of touch, Can I keep it up though . . . . . .

Thursday, February 9, 2012

home again

This one has been resting for a month, a quiet maturing of thought until a few days ago when I put it on the easel again. More definition in the figures, the foreground remodelled and then I glaze most of the side zones to lift the middle section. 
The lack of straight lines generates a sort of 'hobbit' feel to the interior, which in turn makes it safe and welcoming. There is more to do, but for now it can rest against the wall again, that's until it is ready to tell me what it needs next

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pastoral group

Pastoral Group

I have four or five versions of this figure group lodged around the studio, one even framed as a piece in its own right. Here then is a colour layout on the canvas to launch the new painting. The rocks and trees are taken from a local charcoal sketch and the rest has occurred over time.
The semi primitive effect works for me - more in the same vein may well complete the painting. These groupings seem to assemble themselves in my work without any conscious narrative or purpose in the planning. This frees the picture from any designed burden and allows it to inhabit any time zone without pressure.
The medium is oil on canvas and measures about 850mm square.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The healing wing

Here is one of three watercolours I painted last Friday,
There were six, but three were discarded.
It seems that explanation is not always required.
As the artist I can provide a title as a clue to my thinking.
A google search provided little to overlay my thinking in the first of 17.700,000 results
. . . .  but it was probably buried in there somewhere.
It looks gentle, balanced and familiar.
As near to my experience as I can elucidate for now
and seeing it, I can move on to other things

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No unicorns today

I am attracted to shapes. This stark intrusion in the nature reserve at Rye Harbour stopped me, it insisted I record it.
That was Tuesday
All day today I have been working on shapes, not from this image, other ideas that I have that refuse to gel into any sort of manageable form. I draw, I paint and draw again to no avail. I am an artist - I am meant to deliver a stream of art for that is what I do. But no, not today.
In my drawing book, on the 15 November 2009 I wrote in pencil -

Healing wings
Under big trees in heavy wind
I sit on sandstone
with holly on the windward (SW) side

here without possessions
under the power of the wind
'moving the trees' higher up

not looking for revelation
only detachment from the domestic

not to invent
but to discover
to experience

(there follows 82 line drawings on about 16 pages) - it is these drawings I am trying to use - but today without success.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Risk taking

Some time ago I made a wooden piece called Torso, inspired by some earlier drawings that persisted in my thinking. Encouraged by a gouache study of the figures I ventured on an oil painting around 1.2M high.
Now following the demise (sorry, destruction) of my last idea I am increasingly unsure about myself and my judgement. Further - to show you an unfinished, unknown piece is verging on madness. But, lest we imagine that painters have an easy time of it - we need to put the record straight - we don't really know what we are doing most of the time and that's a fact.
So, here it is. See it from where I am standing, unfinished paintings are a puzzle - can I make this one work?