lundi 14 septembre 2020

Backwards and forwards.

It does seem that part of the process is to step back, often inadvertently, looking again at what has gone before. So it is that whilst making these paintings there has been a revision and the drawings have become more representational and yet this was not intentional and rather surprising because I was focussed entirely on the marks that drawing produced. Indeed, like the process of

painting at the moment, I was working up close: at the surface of the painting I could not and did not want to see the edges of the support and in the drawings I tried to ignore the edges even though I was aware of them. I now have a wish to slow the drawings down. This has been put into practice in the making of the paintings because I have finally forced myself to keep overpainting, keep painting up close, risking losing coherence, trusting to luck and turning the painting to the wall when I leave it so that I don't see it entire yet. 

vendredi 21 août 2020

Postcards from the edge of heat.

 These are paintings in progress, oil on canvas,100 x 100 cms. The edge of the heat is wavering, pretty much as I am with these and yet to confirm where they might rest and when they might be turned to the wall, which is always another resting period, during which they may be reassessed. I make paintings: I'll own that that is what I do. I won't say that I am a painter because I am unsure as to whether I am,or am not. There is a difference. Anyone can paint and many do and never consider the gulf between bumping along at the edge of competence and crossing over into understanding what painting is.

The boundary can be a rough edge, bruising, leaving scars. Failure is ever present. It is sheer bloody mindedness to persist, to keep trying to find just a little bit more, to ask oneself to justify the time spent,
the reasons for making another painting and another and another.
I would like to make sense of it all.
I would like to make sense of me.

dimanche 19 juillet 2020

A summer storm.

A summer storm. oil on canvas, 120x120cms

I have planted lots of trees over the years: my current garden of just over an acre has more than a hundred. Some are spaced out to fill out, some are closer to reach and create intimate, shady areas. They are not always immune to damage as sometimes the summer storms can be brief but very strong, In more exposed parts of the landscape we have seen a whole row of mature trees blown down. When I step outside of my workplace I am enfolded into a wood.

Turner was a keen fisherman and spent hours observing the weft and weave of water which memory he called upon so often to make his paintings. They were grand recreations, memory on the move, memory and observation melded into imagination. 
Writing, reading, thinking, painting and drawing can lead us into unknown places, making connections and reconnections. I did not see this storm: I was away when it happened but returned to clear away broken branches torn down with heavy, sodden foliage. The storm broke some and left others untouched. I wanted to make something that spoke to what had occurred but still had to be about paint. There are closed areas and open ones and the yellow line to the right is a reminder that the surface is just there. It is a painting after all.

lundi 13 juillet 2020

Here and now

oil on canvas. 100x100cms

I admire John Constable's paintings. I have a suspicion that I have always done so. Overlooking our house from an elevated position one recent evening, I saw Golding Constable's garden, its light, its shadows; time compressed in an instant on this evening in France, in the Aveyron, on this evening in Suffolk in England. His painting an intimation of mortality, a here and now.
Lucien Freud once thought The Hay Wain silly but he changed his mind. A few years ago I went to see the Constable show at the V&A. I felt that I knew his paintings: I was wrong. I do remember thinking that they should be outside in the light and the air, in the heat and the rain so that those connections could be made and felt. Weather and noise. One of the things that interests me is that we do not think of noise in these landscapes and yet they would have been noisy places with people calling to one another, shouting; whistling; singing. I am aware of it though much reduced in my own surroundings: voices in the distances chain saw; a tractor; the cry of buzzards; kestrels; a Golden Oriole.
Time passing, one day to the next, one century to another. Here and now, in this moment and in that.

samedi 11 juillet 2020

Something shared.

I have been reading from essays by Rackstraw Downes and thought to share this part: he talks about Joe Fiore, who, before going out to paint, would immerse himself in reading. Stendhal, whilst writing his The Charterhouse of Palma, would read from the Civil Code. I was pleased to come across this as a shared activity, settling the mind before committing oneself whatever might be the task to be engaged with.

mardi 23 juin 2020

New landscape.

180x160cms oil on canvas.

There are many paintings of my garden made in the last sixteen years and they are all different as it seems that as it changes, so do I and so does my approach to it. There are times when I take a much more objective approach, a more analytical direction of what I am seeing and then, something broader like this.

dimanche 5 avril 2020

Reciprocity and the age of an oak.




What might be the painting of space might also be the painting of relation , the reciprocity of seeing and being. This is a well worn theme of mine wanting to meld the two. This is of course impossible, given the immutable plasticity of paint and the complexity of the space which we inhabit. So perhaps it is also to do with memory, if these two are not incompatible. I am not painting what I see and yet I am and I am painting what I feel too. Yesterday set myself to draw a large oak tree in the garden ( a quick measure around the trunk at my chest height times Pi, which give the diameter, and multiplying by the growth coefficient for oak x5 comes out at 216 years give or take) by spending time looking at it and then not looking at it whilst I drew - a common enough exercise - so as to try to feel it , to draw the feel of it. Of course there is such a huge gap between the two things and I have no idea what happens in that space between looking and drawing, but it is very interesting never the less.