The days here are very grey, unusually so at the moment. Because I need the light to be able to work more on a painting, I have turned once more to trying to teach myself about painting a head, and mine is readily available. It is not portraiture -I don't know how to do that- but for me it is about seeing what paint will do and how over time one tries different approaches and learns something. There is a painting that I have been revisiting for over twenty years and I must have made the initial drawings at least twenty five years ago. In the process much has happened and I have got older but the title that has been in my head has always been, Am I becoming my father? Anyway, these two are in progress and may well be for some time yet, this is just where I am now.
am I becoming my father?
oil on wood panel 120x120cms .in progress.
oil on wood panel.40x20cms. in progress.
By the bye, there are two interesting blogs that I have come across recently: Making a mark, by Katherine Tyrrell (makingamarkblogspot.com) and Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco , see particularly her Wrapped series.
New paintings always leave me wondering where this is going. I am still taking photographs and becoming more aware of the ambiguity present in an image: just what is it that I am looking at when the surface changes so much whilst the painting progresses? Are these romantic paintings in the sense that aspects of the natural world are recognisable as "organs of feeling" ? I make them as a necessity but often they feel reckless as paintings of the imagination, not paintings of a particular site. One cannot go there but one can see where they have their beginnings .
This is from Alan Feltus: Words on art, reproduced initially on Frank Hobbs painting blog at Ohio Weslyan University.
oil on canvas. 160x120cms.
I think art wants to be something people can turn to for a kind of meaning in their lives, or for a calm place within the turbulance of our modern world. Art doesn’t have to explain our situation within the complexity of a chaotic and unstable society. Art can become social commentary, but it can also serve a much needed purpose providing a place of refuge wherein one can find a reason, or justification, for all the battling we have to do, mentally or physically, most of every day of our lives. After all, we love the art of the past for itself, generally being ignorant of the context, the politics, let’s say, of the time and place in which it was made. We hold onto our favorite pieces in our favorite museums or churches, in our books, and we love to be moved by the beauty of something newly found. Art should have that kind of place in our lives. Art should be about transcendence. It should not merely reflect our surroundings like a mirror, adding to the clutter, but become something more wonderful, more meaningful than that. It wants to be remembered and returned to over and over again. Good art feeds us. It is so important.
A problem I have with abstraction is that one is painting onto a flat surface in the twenty first century when Cezanne has made a statement about being in the landscape, Peter Lanyon has made landscape relevant to personal history, Joan Mitchell has worked with landscape. There are others and I am not overlooking Paul Klee.
So where does one go on ones own. Painting what one knows? What does one know? For me the sense of being in the landscape is tied up with being in the painting as opposed to the Renaissance sense of a distant observer. Constable comes to mind as creating a sense of weather, of being wet, of making the stuff of the paint be the light, rain, wind, sun certainly recalling it viscerally. I am outside and inside: I am in it and it is in me. The problem is how to make that sense have its equivalent on that flat surface .