lundi 4 janvier 2021


 The fauchage, the flaying of the hedges. An annual assault on the byways, however it is to be described

 made me think of a painting and these are the beginnings. A new direction perhaps, or a dead end but at the dog end of one year and the start of a new one it was enough to get me out in the cold to look at this remnant, try to hold it in my memory while I walked and then begin the paintings. I think that I wondered how to create something monolithic from something that is, in fact, quite small. It did also bring all those artists like Mantegna, Reni, El Greco to mind. A walk in the cold does funny things to one's brain.

mercredi 2 décembre 2020

Thinking about landscape painting

 If, as has been said, landscape painting is a funny business and really only of concern to the dabbling amateur then, I have to declare my amateur status and make myself a lapel badge. If being an amateur is someone who care little for status or praise and paints because one must then the club must have a huge membership. Okay, I will admit that it makes a change to see paintings in a gallery setting and get an opportunity to give them space to breath but at the same time see if in fact they work as paintings at all.

They eventually come back and one realises that one has moved on. These are not the same paintings. The thinking has changed without really being aware that it has. Everything looks and feels different.This should feel like good news and it does because it means that there are possibilities that I have not even recognised yet and I might yet find myself in a painting that will bring thinking and understanding together, might yet unfetter the constraints that still exist. isn't that the point of it all?

mercredi 14 octobre 2020

Going forward anyway.


oil on canvas 100x100 cms

 I have been making a lot of drawings recently, although only showing one here. A visitor was enquiring as to whether I draw for a specific painting, or, whether the latter might be derived via osmosis from the former. It was an interesting question. I almost never prepare for a painting with a drawing but drawing takes placeable the time and must be a preparation of sorts. There are lots of drawings, ( there will be a large bonfire one day) but they are never made as a direct starting point for a painting. There is no drawing from which the above painting is derived. However, it must be that, with all of the drawings that proceed and follow and are made at the some time as the painting there has to be a cross fertilisation of ideas.
I cannot help but wonder as to whether my paintings, which are so much about the perception of landscape, are also about the perception of loss, for what I once had or thought that I had and would have again. I am going again and again into my workspace and starting over: going forward anyway.
I was born and raised in England which must have something to do with it. There was no really wild nature in the south of the country but one made one's own and by the time that I found myself engaged in the drawing and painting of it it was clear that I was engaged in making my own world, a place where imagination and history and future and desire co-existed in a fragile bubble. I used to visit a row of Lombardy poplars in a field, with a barn and then, at almost the same time that I read Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, Binsey Poplars, they were felled and I never went there again.
Now I plant my own trees and make my own landscape, which for a time will be a reference to mine for that which I still need to do .

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.