Friday, August 31, 2012

Follow my leader

One of two new watercolours that depicts a group following someone out of sight.
A bit like faith.
I am shifting work patterns and focus away from the demands of commercial galleries and over to the inclinations I have within. Probably the commercial aspects are of my own making and the habits of past years when I needed an income from art - but now things are different and I too can be different. Always easier said than done - but having said it maybe I can do it.
Authenticity is so important, and art as a means of expression, and as a language is so powerful. Maintaining a passion and finding the outlet for it is crucial and as age saps the energy a focus is all important. 
Strange how every stage in this life is more interesting than the last - never mind after life.   

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Eight people

eight people
This gouache has been unfinished for two or three months, left out of sight and unresolved. With most of the oil painting complete I turned to it again and made a few revisions that seemed to correct it's shortcomings.
It is awash with body language, those apart are together, those together are apart along with sleep and newspapers. It is all very familiar and for that very reason, engaging. 
The structure and colours are novel and that basic requirement 'tension' is present in the work, now signed off it is already with the framer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crash and burn

uncompromising revision

This piece was finished. But then not finished.
Back on the easel it sits.
I walk streets and think.
To paint the whole garden in flat colour is radical - I like the idea!
I draw it in with a white Conte crayon, and, starting at the top I paint it all in. I pre-mix colour with a knife and then apply it with a nylon brush. No modulation, no brushwork and no artistry, just coloured in. It all hangs on the idea, the drawing and the choice of colour.
A lot cranky and a little bit wonderful.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The role of red

In life as in painting, there are elements that we deem essential when in fact they are unnecessary and at worst detrimental. The red in my picture was from the beginning such an 'essential' until I saw it's role in a different way.

By burying it under mauve and green it flickers and animates without domination. It unifies in an underlying fashion. I found that red has a role, but the role for red in this case is underneath mauve.

Here is the difficulty in making paintings, judging this case, this arrangement, this message. A recipe will not fit every story. Unruly colours must be encouraged to sing in harmony and sing this particular song, sometimes it just takes longer than others to bring it all together.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Estorick Collection

In last Saturdays paper I read a glowing review of an exhibition of Italian Abstracts at the Estorick Collection in Highbury.
I had not heard of The Estorick Collection.
With an afternoon to spare in London today I caught a northbound tube on the Victoria Line.
It took me to Highbury, new territory for me.
I like a new place.
A gate in an old brick wall takes me into a garden with a cafe . . . .promising.
I have a Peroni in the walled garden.
I follow six galleries of Italian art from Vortist beginnings through the 20C. Friendly rooms full of art are joined together in this lovely old house
without that heavy 'blockbuster show' razzmatazz.
Much enjoyed.
Should you be in Highbury, call by, ring the doorbell, slip inside for a look.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Physiognomic thoughts

This is thinking aloud
or drawing aloud - without revision
late afternoon with spare paint
sketch book in one hand
I love pale blue, pale Cerulean blue
to be precise
the brush was too big - always the best mistake
forcing squeezing thinness
from bluntness
a controlled generosity of paint

Friday, August 10, 2012


Moving pictures (still incomplete)

Lido: late 17th cent.: from Italian Lido, from lido ‘shore,’ from Latin litus .
This one is taking the long route
change - erasure - growth
dissatisfaction feeding movement
building - climbing - strengthening
complex colour balance
precarious - delicate - light
continuity of form and placement
shallow - plane - flat
maintaining original message
leisure - lido - laughter
new issue now identified
resolve - lift - seamlessly

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Alessia is the queen of Casa Volpi.
Casa Volpi is the small hotel we stayed in during our late spring visit to Italy and it was Alessia who made us welcome there. I made a number of drawings that reflected the sensation of my stay in Arezzo. This oil painting taken from one of those drawings has been a work in progress for some weeks, that today, saw a move as I recoloured large parts of it. My work will frequently undergo such revisions as I seek to balance the colours with what I recognize as some sort of equilibrium in my mind and heart. With this much in place more fine colour tuning in the figure and the flowers can be attended to.
The formal quality of the piece occurs more and more in my work, The frieze like arrangement and the plant designs flow quite clearly from my recent affinity with the Romanesque period, although unintentional at the time of design, looking at it now it is quite obvious.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wading in

Re slipway -  from the last blog.
I was not happy with it.
I caught sight of an 11thC illumination from a psalter (see b/w image below) and I knew what had to be done. With a flourish of new paint I over-painted 90% of it - fantastic - I felt alive.
With minor adjustments this afternoon (sat) I will leave it again.
It is ten times better and probably ten times more difficult to sell! Lets stick with better.
That psalter image showed me how to emphasize the division of the work - making it much more powerful, this I did boldly with blue and thereafter it told me what was required.   I bow to the 11C. men.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Return on investment?

Here I come clean. This is the painting that has caused me so much trouble.
I think it would make a good jig-saw puzzle!

There are parts I like.
I find myself applying redundant compositional criticism and then ignoring myself.
It is quite mad.
Also a bit bad.

I have nothing to compare it with.
So wrong, it might be right.
who knows.
It remains.

FRIDAY Update: now undergoing a major repaint after catching sight of an 11C psalter. Exciting and powerful. Watch!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On faith, flight and a following wind

On faith, flight and following winds.

Shown above is Fight, a painting from 2009 and one that depicts a current state of mind.

I have battled with a large new picture for two days to the point where I doubt its worth. Only a glimmer of hope sustains a continuing investment of time and effort for which I may get a return.
I continue to face questions.

What is past and what is now?
What to destroy and what to keep?
What is me and what is them?

While these questions are a bane, they are the proof of life and vigour in a work.

Historically, faith benefited from adversity.
Pilots take off into a head wind to maximise lift.
Difficulty can be better than a following wind.