Thursday, March 29, 2012


The content here is universal and timeless, as the French say 'Everything changes and nothing changes'
I make no comment - only find a way to combine content with form as well as I can.
Little goes a long way, this is a reduction, clearing the junk to see the room.
This little canvas was started in mid February, today saw the last of the junk removed to the point where you see it now.
Always enjoy the sky above - for pale blue is such a lovely colour.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Some thing are a little before their time. This drypoint was found today in box, one of three 'artist proofs' that never made it to completion, and were tucked away and forgotten. Now, I am intrigued.
Part of a series devoted to Multi storey car parks, this one has moved to some sort of personage on various levels.
Can this this begin something?
Would it breed?
I'm reading Dubuffet.
I look at eternity.
How can one paint anything?
Where is worth?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rock water

This piece has occupied me for some time.
It began as a homage to Poussin with his figure groups in a pastoral setting.
From a site nearby I drew rocks and trees in charcoal.
The sketch was invested with my figures in such a way that pleased me.
This version in oil is the culmination of my efforts.
I don't quite understand it.
Now it is released - interpretations will abound.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


One cannot explain paintings or the act of painting. Any law, rule or scheme is a contrivance that turn art into a recipe. In this detail I am faced with the back of a man that needed recolouring with no reference material or memory to work from, and no clear idea how I was to do it, only, I sort of knew that realism was not it. I can only trust my hands to deliver pigment to the canvas while I watch - on occasions I call for a revision or perhaps a rerun as I am unable to specify what I want done, this activity continues with various areas that seem unsatisfactory. I have worked all day like this with both minor and major alterations - now, we are both more or less happy I can clean up and have some supper.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A new piece :Foyer

A spurt.
'found' sketches can energize
moments exist for action
recognition and movement combine for art
simple notions can be powerful
committee will dissipate purity
knife edge
now finish in the same spirit

Monday, March 19, 2012

Predella painting

A painting can take a long time.
Here is one I have that has been finished twice already!
Now it is dismantled and on the easel again three years later.
The piece consists of a main canvas with three small images beneath fitted into the same frame. In old Altarpieces these three were called a 'predella' and it's my present day predella that I've been working on. The one showing above is about 8cm square and despite its small size still needs to hold its own in the greater scheme of things.
I paint them together to maintain colour continuity with an eye also to the main picture. Working this small is demanding, a level of detail without picking, colour strength without being garish and so on.
I consider it all to be finished now - but how will it look when assembled - is the third finish just another finish . . . . . .

Friday, March 16, 2012

Francesco Guardi

Remembering and copying the Marina con Arco by Francesco Guardi
Today has been a teaching day. Spending time looking hard at the way Old masters still speak to us and through us. Most interesting is the way that Modern Masters access their thinking and use it successfully in contemporary art. Examples abound of work and with this in mind we worked on some development studies.
I have myself found great advantage in this exercise. First must be the looking, and a good way to assist that looking is to copy the work itself. Showing here is my watercolour copy of Francesco Guardi. This way I study every detail of form and structure, of balance and dynamics and how colour is chosen and applied. One begins to understand the piece - and when I understand I can move forward, I am more qualified to create, and with a greater pictorial vocabulary I am better placed to articulate my thoughts on the modern world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smiling at the past

I smile at the past
nonsense from 1995
joyous frippery in colour
veiled satire
apparent senses surface

Monday, March 12, 2012

Perspiration and planning

Today I make a new batch of grounds for oils.
4mm ply on softwood supports with fine linen laid over with PVA and stapled at the back.
Tomorrow they will receive two coats of good Primer, then left to dry thoroughly.
Its good to have material laid up in readiness, then when the spirit moves there is no delay.
I like a robust approach to the work - perspiration and planning pay off.

To live by painting is not a soft option and I dare not calculate the hourly rate
 . . . . but whatever, I would have it no other way.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Three ages

Digital art

I have acquired an i pad, but have no inclination to draw on it - making me feel rather out of fashion.
Even so, the piece above is a digital file I made in 'Illustrator' which a vector package by Adobe about eight years ago, and always kept the file because I liked it so much. Vector drawings are very controlled and allow precise shapes and fills, I like the format.
All through art history are scattered pictures about the three ages of man, youth, middle and old age - and this is an abstract attempt at the same.
It was never printed or shown till today.
Paul Rand said that good art and design was the perfect balance of form and content. Maybe this attempt is an attempt at that very goal - without the brush marks.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dance notation

Planning a dance

I remember reading about the various modes of dance notation, ways that dance movements could be written like music, then read back and learnt by the dancers. This circular watercolour was a response to such, except this is an imaginary language of my own devising - perhaps to be played like a record!
Dance tradition demands a rigid order, group dance demands order to prevent mayhem - but my granddaughter dances freely without order.
How beautiful it would be to dance freely like a four year old again.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Highly charged

I am always surprised by the past, this from the early '90s is no exception.
I often used television as an inspiration source and always latched on to contemporary dance as priority. Poised in front of the 14" TV with a tripod and a 35mm film camera I would shoot of a roll of film in the hope of catching something worthwhile. This picture came from such a roll of film.
The composition is radical and clearly theatrical, the pose, or the movement is highly charged. That expanse of darkness took an age to get it sufficiently interesting enough to hold up as the major part in the plot and minimal work at the base generated a deeper space.
I was pleased to see it again and be reminded of old battles with space and colour - and be a little pleased with my efforts.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thinking in colour

Teaching: and still learning

Today I ran a class on colour. In order to do this I wrote a lesson plan and thought it only proper to work through my own plan as a student. This was quite revealing as I looked over my work, a stumbling sort of start that slowly picked up to finish with the colour study above.
Today I witnessed 13 people do the same in various ways coming to various conclusions, all learning about mixing, precision and the placement of colour. Art is difficult. What fools they are in education who deem art a soft option. With infinite variables, abstract form and the need for highly tuned sensibility it borders on the impossible.
Dubuffet, said some perceptive things . . ." therefore it comes to a matter of paying great attention to inattention, to being very attentive in transcribing, as skilfully and faithfully as possible what happens to an object when one sees it without paying much attention to it ".
Or maybe Matisse when he said "Thus there is an inherent truth which must be disengaged from the outward appearance of the object to be represented - This is the only truth that matters.
I call it hunting unicorns - we spotted a few in the distance today.