mercredi 11 décembre 2013

A man for all reasons.

                                              Man in a grey fleece. oil on canvas. 20x60cm

There are many reasons for going on with this: it is never the same ; the start varies as does the methodology of the painting; the light varies day to day; the mood in which the painting is approached changes from the beginning through to the end of the working day. I wear this expression and then that, am buoyed along by events and just as easily crushed by the futility of the enterprise. Sometimes at the end of the day everything seems okay but at the commencement of the day following it is a disaster and there is nothing for it but to start again. You all know this: we take risks, we know we take them: therefore we have no cause for complaint.

mardi 26 novembre 2013

The Selfie and the plain old slog.

Now that Selfie is no longer a neologism and takes its place in the O.E.D. as word of the year I can tip my hat to it. It is an old hat though: the selfie has always been with us. The apps which now facilitate an airbrushed view of ourselves are quick to apply and having made ourselves more presentable but never less, we can bask in the assumption that we were never so beautiful. Never so desirable. Manicured and manipulated, you will recognise the altered state in countless self portraits and I imagine that we aim to flatter ourselves one way or another.

When I go into my shed to make a self portrait I have no idea of the outcome or how long it will take or how many times it will be repainted or redrawn or how successfully I will make the image. It will be based on me of course but it will be more about the drawing or the act of painting than about me for I still don't know how it is that the me changes so much during the time spent working. So much happens in that time. It must affect the image that is made - whereas the photo selfie captures an instant the drawing is a slog which has now taken more than fifty years. It's a journey isn't it, one step at a time.

Here's my shed.

and a couple of selfies.

jeudi 7 novembre 2013

Parochial ambitions.

I have a narrow outlook: the space I look at is bounded by a limited opening. I think that I read widely, politics, history, art and literary criticism : I love a good read and often do that when in my shed for the purpose of painting. I like diverse views. My painting though is narrowing its focus. That can be a good thing and it is why I like to draw and paint  my head and my garden. Zadie Smith said that she thought writing wasn't about being experimental but rather about finding something true and I think that that can be applied equally to painting.

I have made one large painting over the last months and several small ones. In between times I try to work on my head but the image that I carry within it keeps shifting. In no particular order then are some of the garden paintings.


                                     160 x 120cm


jeudi 3 octobre 2013

Deep breath - painters progress, ten years on.

I don't exhibit much, just twice in the last decade. I am lazy I suspect, preferring to just get on with it: both exhibitions were invitations so I had only to see if there was something worth showing and then turn up. It is a risk, sticking one's neck out and part of me wants to and the other would rather not.

For a very long time I would not describe myself as painter; there is a historical reason for that and I won't bore anyone with it: suffice it to say that it was a step too far. Now I have been invited to show some self portraits in a show next year which means I have to get to it because like all that I do it will be a start/stop/redo/start again affair.

There are a lot of excellent portrait painters who have learnt their craft the hard way. I am interested in that slow accretion of expertise and I like very much to see a hard won image. I don't know my limitations yet so I am going to go into this with a degree of naivety and see if anything can be done. I have made a start. The months ahead will suggest a direction and if these tentative beginnings yield anything at all I'll put it here.

I found this today.

Jan Veth. 1888. Cornelia, Clara and Joanna Veth.

and these are  my beginnings - long way to go then.

jeudi 12 septembre 2013

Room with a view.

oil on paper. 30x30 cm.

ink, charcoal, emulsion. 170x136 cm.

ink, charcoal, emulsion. 170x136 cm.

oil on canvas. 30x30 cm.

oil on canvas. 30x30 cm.

oil on paper. 30x30 cm.

It is interesting how one thing leads to another and how the process of drawing and painting together cross-fertilises marks and gestures. I have made a number of these over the recent weeks, looking out of the window. When I first moved here and worked in the cellar, it was my daily practice to paint from the view out of the window there and now, after a couple of years in my new space I find that I'm doing it again. The purpose behind drawing and painting together is to see if they can influence one another, not consciously but through the spirit in which they are approached.  I am not a planner, I rarely set out a composition and even if that happens it is quickly altered as the work gets into its stride. However the idea (noted by Ivon Hitchens) of a painting carefully planned and built up stage by stage, carried about in the mind, "felt" for some while and then on the spot various elements being extracted and woven together is clearly a way of working that creates a structure to explore problems of form ,
tone, line.

I am hoping that this interchange will lead to tougher images: I came in this morning and looked around  to find that it all seemed too slight. Would the small paintings work if they were bigger? Do they work as they are? What if the drawings were paintings?  Trying to reconcile something like truth to nature with the demands of the picture, the subject and object dilemma, is truly like being on a knife edge. 

And then that voice in ones head chiding, asking," have you any idea what you are doing?"

samedi 31 août 2013

Gardening and dreaming.

ink and emulsion on paper. 86x109cm

ink and emulsion on paper 86x109 cm

oil on paper 30x30 cm.

oil on canvas 50x50 cm.

oil on canvas 50x50 cm.

oil on canvas 60x45 cm.

All fields are a life in waiting no less than all gardens await a revival or a disappearing. A life in flux. Resetting time, living in the past and the present , a work in progress like the paintings here made during this summer. A small area of the garden (viewed from the same position each time) which changes all the time and is so transient that it serves so well as a model for the paintings.

mardi 6 août 2013

Fixing things.

acrylic and charcoal. 170x130cm

acrylic and charcoal. 170x130cm

acrylic and charcoal. 90x90cm

acrylic and charcoal. 90x90cm


These drawings are an attempt to fix (crystalize) an idea that came from the previous paintings and are laid out on the floor while I work it out. I think I can see where this might be going: there are some people I need to look at; late Cezanne ; Siennese painting, perhaps Pierro della Francesca ; Matisse; Diebenkorn, just people to look at. If anyone has a suggestion I would be keen to hear it.

mardi 30 juillet 2013

La Tour, Montsales, 12260, France. Ian Warburton, Paintings.

                                                 Time Passing. oil on wood. 120x120cm.

In case anyone looking at this blog happens to be in the area, the show is on until August 22nd. The tower is well worth a visit for itself and the view  .Galerie La Tour, Montsales.

lundi 15 juillet 2013

Landscape doesn"t go anywhere.

oil on canvas.196x131cm.

acrylic,ink on paper. 196x131cm

It is fascinating that the allure of the process causes us to return to the workspace everyday and start over and so often it is just that, starting over, not so much a steady working towards the end of the piece because, for me, that point seems so elusive and a surprise when it does come, but a re-evaluating, re-consideration of the previous days work, scraping it down, rubbing out the marks, beginning again. Richard Diebenkorn spoke of always wanting to fix things and there was a danger that one might always miss the one thing that did not need fixing.
Sometimes one goes too far and there is no possibility of salvaging anything. Weeks, months,years go by and it is as if one has learnt nothing, still unable to push beyond the barrier of ones limitations but,
we go back and start over.

Perhaps the work of artists is not about the big statement but more to do with the little steps. Some it is true, only ever have one painting in them and they make variations of it throughout their working life. Others are accused of being all over the place. I think that finding out what can be done is part of the journey. 

On July 3rd I wrote my self a note that the painting was resisting: I couldn't mould it into the image I wanted. The drawings seemed to flow better but I guessed that that was in part the nature of the acrylic and ink which dried quickly and could be worked over without turning into mush. They were flatter, stronger. Perhaps paint was too seductive, too precious. Perhaps I was at the barrier. The following day in the light of morning the drawings looked more like the painting and the painting more like the drawings.

I listened to Delius, The first cuckoo in Spring. Did he ask himself, Will it sound like the cuckoo? I asked myself whether it looked like the landscape. I wasn't making a two dimensional copy of the landscape. I was making marks, patches of tone, creating shapes, drawing. Making something else. Condensing what I think I see and feel into a separate thing. Does it speak of the cuckoo? Does it speak of the landscape? 
There are layers of sound, there are layers of marks. We recall sights and sounds and look to the future.

Landscape doesn't go anywhere. It exists, it doesn't move from place to place. It is us, the painter, who changes things.

mardi 2 juillet 2013

Two drawings.

ink, acrylic and charcoal on paper.

ink, acrylic and charcoal on paper.

Two drawings looking from the window onto the garden, trying to bring about a change in the way I use paint. They are being made in conjunction with two paintings which are quite different in execution but I am looking for a synthesis. Whether or not I achieve it remains to be seen.

jeudi 20 juin 2013

It's all about freedom.

oil on canvas.60x46cm.

oil on wood panel.90x70cm.

charcoal on paper.80x60cm.

ink on paper. 80x60c.

ink on paper. 80x60cm.

ink on paper. 80x60cm.

When I was starting out someone told me my painting was the most honest he had seen and the worst. I have never forgotten and whenever I think I might be progressing I remember his name. 

Those of us who work away from the noise can pursue ideas and directions with only ourselves to question. I remember reading about some large paintings of skies, beautifully done said the reviewer, but not very worthwhile. Well, with my own show just over a month away I find myself wondering whether this also applies and my report card will be annotated, "could do better". I guess so. I have no one to blame but myself but I have the freedom to do as I please.

 So in these moments of doubt which we all share, I have turned again to observing the garden, listening to Keith Jarrett and just doing.

It is after all, about freedom.

lundi 10 juin 2013

Drawing in progress.

I learnt a new word the other day courtesy of Ilaria del Turco: Selfie is the word. Apparently the OED is evaluating it but there is already debate out there as to why there is an explosion of photographs of the self on social media.

Anyway this is how I spend my days and those who have looked at my blog before will know that I am  pretty much obsessed with trying to get to grips with it.  So for those of you who were brought up on football results via the BBC if you don't want to know the score, look away now.

vendredi 31 mai 2013

Everything changes, ideas, light, bodies, landscape.

weather. oil on canvas. 120x120cm.

oil on board. 30x30cm.

oil on board. 30x20cm.

charcoal and chalk on paper. 70x30cm.

Every time I go into work something has changed and during the time spent working something changes again. The moving target which is the thing addressed is like a chimera ( a chimera in my brain troubles me in my prayer. Donne) and getting hold of a sense of focus is really difficult. Whether it be the light, or the energy one has for the task, or the sense of slippage, the gap between the thought and the hand touching the surface is full of questions. I am talking to myself, remonstrating with myself, urging myself to do it over again. We all know this. 
The last two days have been spent drawing and making these two paintings: each drawing has been different, they are part of the  process as are the paintings, neither of which will survive long. It is still cold here and the stove needs fuel.

The landscape has been a long time in the making and it feels like the weather here which is a kind of progress.