jeudi 27 avril 2017

Two garden paintings.

It was Van Gogh who said something like that one person could provide material for many paintings and I feel the same way about the narrow view of my garden. It is always different, always challenging, always providing opportunities.
I photograph my garden a lot: I don't refer to them when I'm painting but they do capture a lot of information that I can use to remind myself of shifts in shadow and how blocks of light and dark can work together. Sometimes they provoke me into considering possibilities that I might otherwise miss and together with the drawings, help to search for some truth. There is quite a difference between these two, given that they have been made within days of each other and I find myself moving between closely observed painting and that which allows for more reordering, invention, call it what you will. It is however still rooted in the view, in the bush as object, in the space as theatre.

dimanche 16 avril 2017


This is a painting that I started just after I turned sixty six and four years later and much repainting I am at a stage where I might let it rest. Is it a likeness? Well, if it and my head were ever to be exhibited together, then maybe but does it really matter? Painting a portrait is about many things, certainly about paint; certainly about context. The painter changes from day to day, hour to hour: the accretion of paint, the working of the paint in fact is as important as the scrutinisation of the head being painted. There are many self portraits which are about the act of painting rather than making a likeness but the questioning that goes on - is it like this, is it more like that? Is it more yellow, is it Naples yellow or Naples Yellow and a touch of Raw Umber ; what is that shape? where is that line exactly?

In Malcom Gladwell's book The Tipping Point (2000) he states that context is crucial to all varieties of human behaviour. We are affected by both large and minute changes and what I am at any one time and in any one place changes as a mutating human organism. So it is indeed a moving target.

I have a friend who entered a competition, filmed in the manner of The Great British Bake Off. She attempted to get a likeness of her sitter without the aid of tablets and squaring up apps. She looked, she applied brush to canvas, she watched the clock. I admire her guts because I wouldn't be able to do that. I need time, years obviously. I will revisit the portrait because it is very interesting and because next time it will be different again. And I am my own sitter and am always here -  for now.

mardi 11 avril 2017

A painting for my mother.

                                                                  the bush. oil on canvas

My mother liked order in her garden, plants well spaced, plenty of soil visible and found the apparent chaos of mine (no soil visible, only gravel) puzzling. Why is it so full? she would wonder. Gardening is trying to force nature into constraints that are the antithesis of wildness. There is a symbiotic relationship between my gardening and my painting. I have to cut a hedge before I can begin to paint it: I have to mow before I can see where to draw.

                                                                charcoal on paper.

mardi 7 mars 2017

Three small garden views and a thank you.

My travels between England and France have taken a toll: at the same time they have, in the time allotted between visits  meant that I could plunge into these small paintings with a kind of abandon that celebrates living and I think, has carried me through the grey days . A parent dies and yet everything continues. I am happy to keep painting, comfortable with saying goodbye and thanks.

jeudi 16 février 2017

Taking time out.

To record something of myself at seventy. Yes, seventy. A number, a state of being which seems to have caught me by surprise although I must have seen it coming. Anyway, it is what it is so one just continues come what may.

vendredi 10 février 2017

The painting is itself no matter what the season. Four paintings in winter.

It can be transcriptive; it can be mimetic: essentially it is a creative act which succeeds or fails in its ability to create an engagement beyond the making of something out of nothing.
It needs to be painting as painting, painting first - for me, subject, as in the view of my garden, second, and painting last.
Paintings don't last long with me. They are a means to an end but painting lasts because it is elusive; searched for; longed for.

jeudi 5 janvier 2017

Thinking out loud.

                                                   hedge in winter. oil on paper.78x50cm

winter garden January oil on paper 78x50cm


                                                      winter garden. oil on paper. 78x50cm

I think that it is important to communicate. I think it is vital to share stories. I think it is encouraging to know that we are not alone in whatever we do. There is a huge resource for us to tap into and I feel strongly that when a story is shared we gather a collegial sense from it and so there are artists that I look to for a sense of shared endeavor. One artist that I read has not written anything for a long time although their practice continues. This artist I know feels that it is presumptuous to  write about art but to stop doing so is to step back and so often I have read something written that has been important, something that I have not thought about, or something that has clarified my own muddled thinking. Sharing visual images is of immense importance too as we can read a journey in them and evaluate its relevance.
I sincerely hope that the encouragement that many people have gained from seeing what is being done and sharing in the thinking out loud will continue. We are a community and voices need to be heard.