years ago these sentinels appeared a number of times in my work - and here they are again. This painting, 'Troth, with maidens and angels' is part of my Borde Hill project and has reference in part to weddings, this then is a response to that influence. There is more to do on this painting but in the main it is established.
The frieze like arrangement of six figures encompass seen and unseen realms with minimum disruption, making it natural, not unlike the way Samuel Palmer worked on his glowing pastoral pieces in the late 19th Century.
This is second stage, on a coloured canvas. I have now established roughly where things are and what its about. Everything here is connected to the earth, and the earth is warm to touch. The trees almost work like skewers, the figures have weight and conect with pleasure to the soil under them. It radiates summer warmth.
There is no hurry here, nothing to unsettle the harmony, how old fashioned is that.
This is a distinct place to be with a picture, much is established and yet it is still only a series of coloured patches. I have spent most of the day appliying colour, starting in the middle and then moving left, then from the middle againworking to the right. It is methodical. Before that, I stood for a while and thought about colour and mixed six piles of colour from my delicious Harding oils.
This gives me a platform from where to work next, subsequent colour will become looser but within the set bounds of what is established. The next layer will allow much of this layer to show, it will code it more using this foundation as a launching cradle, chance and invention are good, but too much leads to mayhem and failure for me.
I draw many thumbnails, a repeating series of scribbles to grow an idea then when something gels - I stop I look for a dynamic, a narrative, a pattern or something to spark life beyond the norm.
I saw it in that tiny 6cm drawing - and moved on the 60cm canvas
Saturday I had washed and dashed some colour on the white primer. Today I mix and apply colour with Coltrane as a soundtrack Realism is allowed while judging its worth in abstract values, parallel values that complement each other and merge their personalities into a single voice.
The next session when dry will seek to progress the 'life spark' forward not dissimilar to walking with a candle in the dark.
The cycle begins again, a thought, a few little drawings, a possibility occurs, I contemplate colour, brushes move, I watch it happen, sometimes I cheer, sometimes I boo, the picture bumps along, the music plays, the sun shines, shall I stop or shall I do more, I do a little more, I read a bit, I look at Klee, I look at Giorgio de Chirico, the moment passes, I clean the palette, and the brushes, I wander though the garden back to the house, I have tea and cake in the sun. Perhaps more another day.
Here are the embryonic ideas that may develop into a new 'Cafe' oil painting. This large watercolour sketch contains the gist of what is wanted, but not in the right quantities.
Figures, three tables and backdrop all fine, it just needs compression to exagerate the dynamics of figures in a closer juxtaposition. From this draft I will make a new drawing, scaling up the figures, overlapping some and watching how form interacts when expanded.
Colour too must be heightened, and to this end I have prepared a canvas now coloured with a Venetian Red ground from which to start. While this dries I will contemplate other themes for the same venue - I like more than one pan on at once - it keeps me alive.
Now I step into new work. I circle around in my mind and think of old (past) - I look away with an 'after image' still imprinted on my retina.
At this point in new work, writing can neither comprehend or be comprehensible for the truth of the work is in the making of that work. The drawing above is a menagerie - a mirror of my moving mind.
Writing an Artists statement is not for me, they are commercial tricks - look back at my footprints, there is a statement by the artist, an after image, read that if you like and you will know me then, as I was.
Next is unknown, God know next, I don't.
Unpicking the mystery of now is in drawing, a code to be coloured by my fingers quietly using whispers from my heart.
The contents of art browsers vary from place to place. Once a reliquary for past paper fragments too good to throw away, the Browser now has come of age.
Now it is material awaiting frames, no longer dubious material unworthy of a frame, more pre-frame rather than post-frame. The enduring problem though is that one needs a special eye to see the true value of unframed work as the frame so often lifts the work to a new level of respect and enjoyment.
The price structure within my browsers is - I must admit - a little uneven, this means that there are good opportunities in the browser, reflected in the amount of attention they receive.
Come and see for yourself next Saturday or Monday 10.00am - 6.00pm
The completed plaster panels are finished and hanging in their place ready for the show to start. I ought to give them names but none come to mind, perhaps you can help me . . . . . They carry an ancient Mediterranean warmth and emotion that pleases me, I am in no particular rush to part with these two!
As show preparations continue I find myself 'looking' at the paintings. Some sense of satisfaction would be nice, but is rarely felt. Anxiety is present instead. An unsureness on my part is better than satisfaction for new has no comparisons, there is no 'is it as good as' for me. I must only refer to 'is that what I wanted'. That there some tension or energy in the work is so important as a life giving element.
To connect with people I must engage with them internally via the work. Expectation is a moving target, as unknown as tomorrow.
I am on a fixed course now, the work is done, May 4 & 6 will be here very shortly and your opportunity to see the show for yourself.
After painting and selling for 25years I am still regularly asked the same question in front of a picture, 'How long did it take?' or in other words 'what is your rate per hour?' I remind them that art is not a question of labour for it is not work or a labour as such and therefore the price in not a calculation of its parts. We must first judge how good it is, which will bear little reference to the labour involved but a lot to do with its ability to move the viewer in the soul. To move a viewer the artist must be first moved themselves.
Art should begin as a response to life and not a response to the market, the latter is to flatter and will be a fake stimuli to the heart that will not last. To 'feel' life is emotionally expensive, a costly wearing of our being and to translate this into colour is not a common skill. It is a different altogether, it is deeper than 'talent', its a transmutation of emotion that can be read by another with ability to receive.
What price art, as always is what people will pay and that, I hope, is governed by how much they feel not on how much they have got.
I have on a number of occasions found a lot of creative help by moving between disciplines, especially between 2D & 3D, but low relief is different. I am working on two shallow plaster pieces representing a man and a woman, what began as an aside, has become important. Earlier I found only just enough conviction in the project to continue, now they stare back at me unfinished and demand attention.
The female piece is more advanced, she leads the way. The whiteness mesmerises me, colour can only wash lightly as a faded distemper, shadow takes to itself a new value and cannot be ignored.
I have found the older I get the harder it becomes, the bar is higher and I need to know that my hands and heart can leap as they did before. The reliefs will be in the show, for leaping is no longer physical, rather a matter of the spirit within.
My regular framer is indisposed due to illness, this puts me in a difficulty. Showing pictures without a frame weakens the impact, show pictures in poor frames adds a negative aura that damages the whole show. Pulling skills from a woodworking past I must see if something can be done.
I have nine new oils of varying sizes that need simple elegant frames about 90mm wide, contemprary, with a nod at tradition. I begin to draw sections of possible solutions on scrap paper. First, the moulding must be composed of a number of pieces else it will twist and bow, 90mm in one piece cannot be trusted to stay straight in central heating. More than one piece laminated together will balace the stresses and keep it true, further it will be stronger and lighter.
The section I settle for is made of four pieces, soft wood and mdf with a fith corner piece to strengthen the corner and prevent it opening up as is often the case in wider frames. The proportions are traditional, with a semi floated canvas and a flush face to the frame which will be painted and polished.
With 20 seperate pieces for each frame and nine frames I have 180 seperate pieces to make and assemble and then apply a finish, not to be the work of an afternoon, but they will I trust, look good.
The oil painting above is almost finished, worked from an earlier watercolour it has about the right amount of reality triggers for my needs. I planned a tragic piece without sentimentality, a sense of loss without holywood tears. Painted over three sessions I build in colour and tonal patterning to suggest form and figures, stopping well short of realism, it will then deliver to the senses a strong message.
Watercolour is prone to dominate the user. It makes the artist subserviant to technique and that in turn undermines creativity and exploratory work.
Overcoming this tyranny is liberating because watercolour is the most amazingly fluid medium, so well suited for exploring new ideas.
This is one of fifteen new pieces that examine new ideas. Here an androgynous figure picks fruit from an anthropomorphic tree, an idea that may need some work, but based on an old motif of mine called the nurtured tree.
The speed that watercolour demands assist the creative process as the work develops before the mind can censor it!
I have a root pleasure in tools and benches and the people who still spend their days at a bench. This little tryptych is a homage to the workbench and those familiar with such in a honest way. I have painted kettles, patterns and cramps along with handtools and papers all in a loosely ordered way that would be seen while making things. The three men pause, talk among themselves in an everyday way about the world and the work in hand, each man and subject as important as the other.
Natural development proceeds slowly. Some small sculptures of heads were made directly from drawings that related to the 'psalm' project, a project dating back to 2011. The idea presented there is occurring in this current painting, Tryst. Finding a workable abstraction for a head or face is an enduring problem as so much rests there in our recognition of emotion and mood, this 'idea' then is the late flowering of my continuing thought on the matter. Colour for this piece must follow in some form or other but as yet is undecided.
At last I begin to focus on painting and the way ahead. Revisions
on my studio are now complete which has seen a simplification of
content bring more light and air into the space and I trust into my
thinking. I would like to share the product of this fresh beginning at the usual May studio show that is only 14 weeks away. May 4 then is the beacon that will add in a bit of structure to the time ahead. No promises are made here about how much I will show, only that I
will show what I have that is worth showing. I am clear about a non
commercial approach, less committed to galleries and more committed to
authenticity. There are more demands elsewhere on my time at present and finding
proper time and concentration is a challenge I will have to rise to. Here's to next week and fecundity.
Finding a language is important, having something to say gives purpose to the language. Soon I will resume painting. In my various disciplines I am interested in clarity. My line, my colour or my choice of words are predictable. I wish to hone these choices with new stones. Now is important, more so than the past. . . . to speak is to eschew code, to paint is to embrace code. Authenticity will be its own clarity.
The studio has seen no action for 4 months. It had taken on a deserted feel of abandonment. With my son so ill I felt no inclination to work. The winter closes in dark and damp. Across the garden the studio outline looks sullen. I read different stuff. Christmas comes and goes. New years day: I visit the studio and look around. It gently annoys me in its layout and content. The annoyance translates into a plan, things will not be the same again. Latent schemes are resurrected, redundant material is discarded. A lightness enters my spirit. More and more is discarded, the interior is dismantled - The shape of space changes, releasing an energy that finds fragments of time to execute more change. The known is exchanged for the unknown. A hint of life emerges from the chaos. The truth is that I and my studio are one, what happens to me is replicated there. I thought I was writing about my workspace when all the time I was writing about myself. The known is exchanged for the unknown. A hint of life emerges from the chaos.