Thursday, May 31, 2012

Candy floss

The fifth idea in the Italian drawing book.
Initial conversions of drawing to colour can have doubtful outcomes. Working over the last few days has meant catching time when possible which has resulted in this rather sweet rendering of my drawing, so I called it candy floss.
There are some interesting colours as well as a scheme that is worth pursuing, these are steps, steps towards, valuable steps. I need material like this from which to make judgements - this is valuable raw material that will be fed into the creativity machine.
More later on this one - keep in touch.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John Piper at Dorchester Abbey

I have a great affection for John Piper and his work. As a fledgling painter, the discovery of the man and his art had a huge influence on me during my belated introduction to modern masters.
To meet his work again today in the beautiful Dorchester Abbey (Oxfordshire) was a real pleasure. My sister drew my attention to this unsung treasure, and after laying on for us the most perfect summer lunch the three of us drove over the county border into Oxfordshire to the village Abbey.
Small shows are always the best shows, Piper in the lovely building and in this homely fashion was a real joy. His ability to be so sharp and so loose wins me over every time. Love and sensitivity abound.
A whole range of things are assembled there, note books, collage, lithographs, vestments, window designs, watercolours and a fantastic plate, worth the drive and the parking is free!

Monday, May 28, 2012


tête-à-tête,  - a private conversation between two people. - from late 17C French, literally 'head to head'
Yesterday (Sunday) I surveyed a grander more metaphysical landscape (worship) (another tête-à-tête!)
Today I review this sketch.
Earlier I listened to the appalling Syrian updates over breakfast and I wonder about the purpose, the wisdom of painting at all.
This little sketch examines accord, a harmony of persons, a harmony of colour.
The tiled floor and the four uprights reflect the order of the underlying axonometric scheme: order is peace.
It is full of light.
Happiness is a fugitive sensation.
Appreciated most when in the shadows,
 . . . . . .like blue that is more blue when next to orange.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day trippers

   Holidays over . . . .  its time to translate the drawings from my Italian sketch book.
This one is 'like' a train, with a holiday feel. These are going to appear now and again during the summer. I did not actually see a train, but I did see some narrow gauge track by the river so I imagined the rest - its what artist do.
From a small 10cm square line drawing in the book I copy the idea onto a 30cm square piece of heavy paper and apply colour at will over stick drawn dilute ink wash line copy. This allows movement and prevents tight copying, moving the spirit of the sketch to remain alive. The loose treatment is in conversation with the traditionally precise axonometric projection, the latter used to brilliant effect in early Chinese art where the method was probably devised.
This and other gouache studies with be translated again into oil paint on canvas when again I will be looking to enhance the image while coding it more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Italy revisited

I've been away.
I needed a sort of break and Arezzo sounded about right. Fine food and frescoes in abundance.
Having managed the crazy Italian traffic out of Florence airport on to the A1 Auto Srada and made it to Casa Volpi, peace reigned. My host Alessia offered me pigeon with some of their home grown/made red wine and I felt better.
I did very little for a couple of days.
A new drawing book had been tucked in my bag with a couple of pencils. Not drawing had seemed better than drawing.
My grandson Otto had asked me recently to draw him a train, I obliged. I remembered this and began to draw trains . . . . .and people. Then the hotel garden, then made up people in the garden and so on. After five days the book was almost full.
By the river there were deserted tables, I drew people at tables, There was narrow gauge railway tracks and a stazione -magic- more trains more people, then an abandoned pedalo, I drew boats and people for my boats, people on the train and people in the water. I ate wild pig and I ate pastries, I drank wine and espresso when the needed. Then fried eggs and truffle were on the menu, how could I pass it by!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dancing by the sea

This woman and bird are an extract, placed on black for effect.
They are taken from 'Dancing by the sea', an enormous seven foot wide oil painting reproduced below. It was a bit of showmanship on my part at the Rochester Gallery, where you climb to first and second floor rooms via elegant but very narrow stairs. I wanted visitors to do a double take as they entered the first floor gallery to be confronted by the wall of painting. It did involve re-stretching the canvas in the room and devising a special frame that could carried up the stairs in pieces and them assembled around the now waiting picture!
It worked.
It sold
Then I reassembled it all over again upstairs in the clients house!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Washing and dressing

Washing and dressing

This is post exhibition wallowing in the past!
Before I gather my strength up to move on I look around
This is a multiple take on morning ablutions. Not, I trust in a voyeuristic way, more sensitivity and understanding, at least as far as crossing gender can manage.
A large piece that I delivered to Chatham and hung high up in an enormous kitchen. It was wonderful.
Looking at the brushwork is no encouragement to me, I cannot conceive how I managed it - I was just there when it happened. I remember it was a long journey, the sky and the cane table came late into the work - the hanging underwear is homely and natural.
Done without models or copies, it grew on the canvas till it lived - then I knew it and I ceased my work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Archive 02


The detail above is from a study for 'picking peas', an idea that occupied me for some time during the mid 90s. The idea continued into 2011 when a series then contained a 'working' module and this early material was much in mind.(see also)
More recently at last weeks studio show I sold a coloured drawing from that original development work that was titled 'Dark side of fresh air'. (below) I am minded how in those days I was pushing hard and figures in action, asking how I could accentuate the sensation while maintaining a real forms. This experimental gouache has been with me over the years as a reminder of those efforts, not least because it fed into a whole raft of ideas and paintings in subsequent years.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Woman with a cigarette

Woman with a cigarette
What an extraordinary photo! When I saw it some years ago it was taken at once to the studio for my resource folder. The translation into painting is something else - time passes. When the moment comes the work begins without thought, only intuition. Paper, yellow gouache and red chalk, chalk so beloved by the ancients works for me.
This is a drawing, a coloured drawing to catch the spirit - how the scarf wraps and defines the head and the dress encloses the breast. The veritable zing of this piece is still with me now while the actual drawing is long gone. Does anyone out there know where it is now?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Archive 01

Nocturnal Dance

A good client of mine bought this gouche study last week. I tend to disregard old pieces like this untill someone stumps up real money for it and then I look again.
I am at the moment looking forward, thinking about the next move, what to paint and how to go about it. But once again I an reminded of the past, where I placed my feet the last time round as it were.
Always I flip between two or more styles, there is a precise, careful measured approach and then the opposite in a wild fling of energetic paint, like this. It would appear it is the way of things. One depends on the other. I climb the long stairway, then grasp a fragile wing and leap off the top in hope.
These wild flings are often unrecognized, hidden away - but over time, like decent wine, they mature and I begin to love them.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Samuel Palmer

I well remember my amazement when, years ago, I first lifted the old red velvet covers that protected the drawings and paintings of Samuel Palmer in the filtered light of the old Ashmolem Museum in Oxford. Sure, I knew what I was looking for, I'd seen them in a book but those little jewels were more than I was prepared for. Over the years my book of reproductions is visited with regularity and always works its magic.
As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I recently aquired a limited edition reproduction of one of Palmer's sketchbooks. The writings/jottings on these pages are an insight into the personal journey between words and images, a journey of biblical influence and the wonders of the Shoreham Valley in 1824. They are intense, while copying they extend, they deepen my sense of wonder as I share in his observation of,  and his immersion in creation.

Monday, May 7, 2012

good vibes

The grand open studio day went very well - even the weather helped out by keeping dry. So many of you came and were really enthusiastic - something I always find encouraging.
Lots of sales from little bargains to enormous six foot oils to happy clients who made the day a day of smiles. Everyone who came spent ages looking and
re-looking, all telling me of different favorites.
Ruth made endless tea and coffee with sweet and savoury home made treats for all and sundry to sip and nibble on the way round. Some had second helpings, someone left their reading glasses behind, some bought postcards and some grandchildren just climbed trees in the garden.
Do remember that we are about this week and all the unsold work stays in place till Friday. Phone us to make sure we are here and come round for a look and some coffee, you will be very welcome.
Thanks to all who came.  John & Ruth

Friday, May 4, 2012

Proper nonsense

Proper nonsense is good. This derivative from a seed head is nonsense, but its good. Well, now I look at the image on my database I see it is not the final version, so it is better than you see it here! This sort on ambiguity pleases me, plucked from nowhere the picture was grown over a week or two into something worthwhile and then fine tuned at the finish. It became a very refined nonsense.
Knowing when to indulge nonsense and when to be serious is the stuff of life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


New Heads

Following on from the clay maquette from November 2011 here we have the cast resin finished piece. Quite small at 17cm I feel it still has presence. Bronze may have been better but starting these things gently takes the pressure off and allows me to breathe easier.
There is and ancient flavour in the form that still stands up well in the 21st C, a form that carries a sort of windblown fortitude, resolute and assured.
My question is still about finish, one is in verdigris, one verdigris that's been rubbed back some and the third is painted in a putty colour, which one I prefer is still undecided, no doubt others will waste no time in advising me . . . . .