dimanche 18 décembre 2016

In between times and Happy Christmas.


                                          Early winter in the garden. oil on paper. 78x50cm.

This is the only painting that I have been able to make for some time. In between times I have been traveling so progress has been slow. Nothing on a large scale can be attempted at the moment. There is a lot of talk about painting in art literature about where it might be going, today or in ten years. I hope to be painting in ten years but just reviewing 2015 through the things that I have shown I can question my own development. It doesn't reflect cultural shifts: it doesn't engage in moral debate. I am a plodder. I know that. I am introverted and focussed on small things. I like paint.

Early winter in the garden is my Christmas card to all of you who take the time to read my blog, those of you from all over. Happy Christmas to you all.

vendredi 11 novembre 2016

Painting and purpose.

It almost seems frivolous in the light of events this week to post this but this is what I do.

Something to ask of oneself: What purpose does my painting serve? Does the purpose change from minute to minute? Is there a long term goal? When I say that a painting has served its purpose,( and therefore, I don't need it anymore and can paint over it] what do I mean and does it necessarily mean that I have identified its purpose? From the point of view of this maker every painting is is some measure a failure. Its intent may not be clear; it may not match the intent; it may be poorly resolved; poorly constructed, over worked; sound but lacking the spark that leads to dialogue; there are numerous pitfalls but there is always a call to engage again, to try harder, to keep asking what and how.

I like to draw and to draw a lot and I would like to recommend the drawings of Stanley Lewis which I came across in reproduction recently.

jeudi 6 octobre 2016

Small paintings to keep me going.

These small paintings are to warm me up for some larger pieces that I will make after my trip to Britain -provided that they let me in - and they are just exploring possibilities. Some of the patches of colour just wouldn't cut it on a larger scale but that will require more, or less gestural marks and areas of purposeful calm. I'll see how it goes.

mercredi 28 septembre 2016

The constant gardener.

During the course of these Autumn days of painting, things change. Colour is noticeably different now. I start out with no agenda other than to look and set down something. When, from time to time, I decide to go at it in a certain way, the resolve lasts only as long as it takes to approach the unpainted surface. The painting takes over: the hand moves in a certain way and I follow where it leads. It is rather like the way that I garden: I have a plan but the plants have their way so I let them . The garden is a kind of time machine and so is painting although that is not, I imagine, a popular idea now. All of these paintings involve the passage of time whilst observing, thinking, making and being read afterwards. Nothing new in this but for me more interesting than something that might have a sign saying Move along folks, there's nothing to see here.
In a recent interview, David Hockney mentions people not noticing shadows, taking photographs of themselves with shadows that they had not seen. For me the shadow is often a positive space and not an absence of light but rather a vibrant counterpoint to other elements.

samedi 3 septembre 2016

Paintings for an exhibition part 2

I was going to add these to the previous post as the developing story of the view from my window but it seemed that it would make for an overlong piece. There seems to be a back and forth thing happening though quite unintentionally between where the paintings might go and where they have already been: bad painting but honest and uncontrived. I see so many paintings that have surface but not much depth and am acutely aware of the danger that that poses, i.e. less to this than meets the eye. I think then that sometimes one needs to go back to the subject and accept that what is being seen are a number of forms occupying a set of spaces, before attempting to do something without that hook. When I draw then I am looking to set down what I see and experience through a variety of physical acts and senses. It is sometimes then that I can make something without so much watching the space before me that is the ash tree and the hill or the little bush but exploring the senses of being part of it via the act of painting and so making something of it that is mine. I still think of it as having the makings of a conversation: myself and the painting process, the painting and the spectator. I still aspire to make some space where something happens: a still space perhaps , still amidst the constant movement.

mardi 23 août 2016

New Paintings for an exhibition.

Ash in the morning. 68x48cm

Ash, afternoon. 68x43cm

                                                                Ash tree. midday.

I have a share, perhaps four paintings, in a small local exhibition: La Tour, Montsales. I have anticipated it for a year now and in that time the Ash tree and the small bush have occupied me totally. I could probably fill the space available with the drawings and paintings that I have made just about these two things but a choice has to be made and maybe a short introduction to the process, I could do with understanding how things develop myself.
The bush is small but I have tried to give it status. The red ash towers above me now and makes its own. The paintings are moderate but I already sense that during winter, on much larger canvas, I will work to intensify the colour and the quality of the paint.

vendredi 29 juillet 2016


There is a hill that I can see, past the red ash in my garden. The colours can change dramatically during the days. Cool mornings, hot evenings.
Whilst I have been painting out of doors I decided to make the top one here by going and looking but coming inside to paint. It is an interesting and well established ( once upon a time) practice and is helping me pare the mass of  information to the point where I might just see the painting and not the hill.

jeudi 21 juillet 2016

Sincerity and Authenticity

It is that time of year: heat and dust, heaviness of leaf as well as the air itself. I am at work on some more paintings of the red ash tree in my garden . Simple stuff really without recourse to the concerns of painting now as in Jed Perl's piece ( The Perils of Painting Now ) in The New York Review of Books which I was alerted to by the painter Sharon Knettle. After a long hard look this morning I wondered ( aloud as I am always talking to myself) if I was now too close to the subject to extract what I needed to make a painting which had in fact some integrity and that elusive authenticity. I am a figurative painter if I am anything: however that should not stand in the way of the painted surface and that transformation and connection between what is seen and what is made. I am not trying to represent what I look at, which is why I worry at becoming too close to doing that, but I am using the act of looking to extract something that can be in the mix that becomes the painting. Braque was well able to take the studio space that he experienced and transform it in the process of painting.

mercredi 20 juillet 2016

Post Brexit blues.

In the week following the sex, lies and videotape that was Brexit I painted this. enough said I think.

dimanche 26 juin 2016

Thick and fast

Which does describe how these are made but they are remade several times until it starts to feel as if it is working, so in truth not so fast, as there is a lot of time when the brain is ticking over before the paint is applied. If, as it seems, these are becoming closer to the subject ( someone commented that they were less abstract but I think not) it is because the hook is obvious and is likely to remain the focus of my attention for some while yet and the painting will take its own course. I can live with that.

mercredi 22 juin 2016

A late nod to Constable and Freud.

And a host of others too since one of the many is Diebenkorn, but what is the problem to be addressed? The tree is not the problem: the tree is the armature upon which to build the painting and I think this holds true for me when, for example, I make a self-portrait and my face serves as the hook upon which I hang the paint. Sometimes it looks the way I look: sometimes the paint becomes a tree.
Colour sometimes works to confound recessional space so when I look at part of the tree (the trunk) and the space surrounding it,painting that can result in three flat sections, each with its own presence. This morning the trunk was a grey blue red but this afternoon it may be a pale green.