lundi 25 mai 2015

Painting out of doors, working from photographs, going to the gym.

Let us take painting out of doors. It is a given that that is what so many do and there are many good examples, obvious examples, of the practice. John Virtue is one which springs to my mind: in his case the sheer physicality of the process, the engrossing nature of the commitment resounds. Why would one not do it? Well I suppose there are lots of reasons and one can think of artists who have used the camera obscura and the photograph to their own ends and still do. The camera is a tool after all, and an aid: I use it. I use it a lot. I take photographs to remind me. I take them to tear up and collage to make myself reappraise looking; I take them just to look at; just to ask myself questions. This year though I am painting outside because I started drawing out there and it seemed logical to paint there too. It is different: the experience is quite other and reminds me of my youth for one thing, getting up at cockcrow and taking my sketchbook and paints into the fields before school. Cue violins. Perspective is another thing: getting up close and personal, zooming in with my feet. I walk a lot when painting, even though I don't cover a lot of ground. Which brings me to the gym. A friend of mine spends a lot of money running in the gym whilst outside is a park. It seems odd but he must have his reasons. I think painting from a photograph of landscape when one could be there is also odd but I guess it works for some until it no longer does. So collaging my photographs for example brings elements of chance and a mark that can be used that I have not previously thought of or an image that has escaped me.

 So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow, glazed with rain water. wrote William Carlos Williams and so it does.

Here is Francis Bacon writing on Matthew Smith:

He seems to me to be attempting to make the idea and the technique inseparable. Painting in this sense tends towards a complete interlocking of image and paint, so that the image is the paint and vice versa. Here the brush stroke creates the form and does not merely fill it in. Consequently every movement of the brush alters the shape and implications of the image. That is why painting is a mysterious and continuous struggle with chance - mysterious because the very substance of the paint, when used in this way, can make such a direct assault upon the nervous system; continuous because the medium is so fluid and subtle that every change that is made loses what is already there  in the hope of making a fresh gain.

It is sometimes hard for non painters to realize how much energy and thought can be poured into a small area of canvas but that is where painters attentions are focused and where their thoughts and gestures contact the canvas and where emotion and intuition meet, where confrontation with the imperfect resides.

Back to painting out of doors.

vendredi 8 mai 2015

Worms of discontent

oil on canvas. 80x80cm


                                                            oil on canvas. 80x80cm

I read somewhere that we all need this to motivate us, to urge us on: I can imagine being content, well, the idea of it with regard to painting but want more than that even if in the end the price is still to fall short.
As the point of this blog is I suppose, to chart progress or discontent and trial and error then these are my worms of the moment.

For anyone in S.W.France at the moment, Rene Caussanel who I have mentioned before, is showing work at Abbaye de Beaulieu, nr Caylus  82330 Ginals (Tarn - et-Garonne) from May 6th to July 6th.
At La Tour, Montsales, nr. Villefranche de Rouergue, Charles de Rodat is showing paintings this month.


vendredi 1 mai 2015

Looking as if for the last time.

garden. oil on canvas. 

afternoon garden with easel.
oil on canvas. 30x30cm.

grey afternoon with easel.
oil on canvas. 30x30cm.

We often speak of looking as if for the first time, that shock of the new and the approach that it can engender but the opposite is also true and equally valid. So is looking away and trying to remember the salient experience of that looking. What is sharp to the minds eye, what had precedence, what was there and where was it and when looking back where is it now? So that is another thing that is interesting to me, that and the way that small area of sharpness shifts each time the eye returns to the space observed.