Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Past and present

Next week I start work painting again.
I am thinking about it, circling around in my mind, wondering about the way ahead. I need growth and movement but it is no time to reinvent the wheel by setting out to begin an entirely new cycle of invention. My current centre of thinking revolves around pre Renaissance painting and it occurs to me that this is not a new idea but one that has always been with me so looking back I wonder how this thinking surfaced in my work before.
Here is a piece from the early '90s of two women at a table, a theme I used a lot in a simple realistic fashion simply because people identified with it and I could sell them. But this one is different. This one lapsed into a pre Renaissance pattern and I look back with interest.
I notice how formal it is in its symmetry, how flat it is as it flirts with simple interwoven pattern. There are columns either side that nod at an Early English style along with a colour scheme to match. Its as if I've found what I want to do in my own archives!
I believe there is this thread in my work that needs extracting so that I can study it with a view to forming a platform for me to move on from. To take what is firmly entrenched in my past, understand it and take it forwards.
This is a discovery that makes the way ahead a little less frightening.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


 I am a maker of things.
After completing the garden pergola recently I had some left over oak.
Perhaps an Oak seat under an Oak tree would be good.
The most comfortable chair I have is the classic Ikea POÄNG
I transfer the section as a full scale rod on to a sheet of hardboard and redraw with the oak in mind instead of the Ikea laminated birch.
The parts are fabricated.
Green oak is lovely to work with, I work methodically with a gentle rhythm - unhurried.
I move outside and assemble the parts for the frame.

substantial, pleasing and comfortable is the brief.
the seat, back and arms are made in the workshop.
Now all together I test it and judge its comfortability - perfect.
Thank you Ikea
I prepare the site - place the seat - it will weather and mature over time.
Me and my seat under the great oak.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Marino Marini

I am warming to Marini. A man of poetry, myth and the ancients.
The way he translates this material is attractive to the eye and the soul.
He has few motif's and these few he weaves into endless variations.
Sensitivity and warmth. The Gothic proccesion is there.
He is too recent to copy, but I'd like to hear him speak.
Not talk like a critic, but like a poet.
The critic is always boiling retrospective stew.
I would prefer Marini's prospective contemplation.
( I note that the Estorick Collection has a Library, surely Marini would speak to me there.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

ideas from al - Gahiz

'Cock facing a dish' from al - Gahiz

This is from a zoological volume of ancient Arabic Manuscripts I acquired recently.
I am searching continuously for source material that will guide me when I return to work.
Here there are shades of Picasso while pre-dating him by a millennium, I do like to get behind people, finding authentic roots and origins.
What shall I do, is the burning question?
December will be a month of testing, finding and experiment.
 . . . dissatisfaction drives me, drives me deeper into myself and history.
Distillation of my existing iconography.
Selecting and extending personal form.
Recognition of the known.          . . . .  all this and more I must meditate on.

Last week I sold 'departure of the muse' (below) a work from the '90s. An interesting departure, an encouragement for me to work in my own corner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Norwich University East Anglia
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
This is a favourite place, I always try to call in here if I am in the city, yesterday was no exception.
Alright, there is hardly any colour in there, but the juxtaposition of primitive/ancient with contemporary art in grays and neutrals is overwhelming.
The removal of the patron (almost) allows fresh air to blow through; work from devotion is exquisite.
Soutine and Bomberg, Mayan and Moore, Thailand and Africa all share the floor. Superb pieces - superb space (Foster)
It melts and enthuses all at the same time.
I can only allow my love of form and expression to reignite my desire to do good work as I resume in a week or so.

P.S. I found this piece by Ossip Zakine

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Going forward

My lull in painting sees creativity in other disciplines. My wooden structure in the garden now stands firmly in position and feels good. I say 'feel' because 'feels good' is an extension of 'looks good' - that inner satisfaction doing a thing well. This is a luxury in our time when pressure is unrelenting to cut costs and deliver tighter efficiencies.
As a young man (40yrs ago) I worked as a carpenter at Hever Castle, converting the old dairies into staff accommodation. I was instructed to make an oak 'gable end' to match the existing style of the building. In those days, power tools were not used on site, I sharpened my handsaw every morning and quietly framed up the old oak flat on the drive before it was erected. I expect its still there. I am glad to have roots in a time past that nurtured the inner satisfaction doing a thing well.
My garden structure is of course a pergola, a word from mid 17th cent. Latin, pergula ‘projecting roof,’ from pergere ‘come or go forward.’
Painting resumes in early December when again I must 'go forward'. My carpentry is rooted in the past. So it is with art, thus my current interest in pre Renaissance art, I trust will enabe me to 'go forward' again in 2013.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ossip Zadkine

I do like interviews, interviews with artist about working thoughts and methods. I have a number of books by writers who had the wit and occasion to conduct  interviews and publish them. One such is 'Dialogues', conversations with European Artists at Mid-Century by Edouard Roditi.
The last interview in this book dated 1959 is with the poet/sculptor Ossip Zadkine
A sensitive deep thinking man drawing on antiquity for authority and inspiration he returned to Paris after a sojourn in America during the war. He wrote, carved and modelled.
In the interview he said 'I believe that an artist should avoid accepting, for any length of time, any specific formula of style. Whatever may at first seem novel or modern or personal soon becomes a dangerous trick of stylization, a shortcut that makes it easy for the artist to neglect thought, emotion, concentration, real creative work'
I would say 'amen' to that

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wet and wild

This was a heavy day to start with, strong winds and fast moving clouds full of rain. Walking on the Eden flood plain near Haxted I felt the weather head on, what a way to inject energy into paint. In this waterlogged meadow I saw the the rain coming straight towards me, I knew I had a few minutes (10 at most) to get something down on paper. Easel up, paper down, open self wide to the panorama and then hit the page with tone and colour.
Then the rain hit me. Game over.
Looking at the little picture now its big with atmosphere and energy - I can feel that wind now.