Out of the Dip.

For the past few weeks I’ve been experiencing one of those dips in confidence and focus that most artists experience from time to time. It’s a fairly regular thing for me. I think the biggest problem I was facing was that I’ve been producing a lot of investigative sketches, which although meaningful and sometimes beautiful, the activity was not leading towards a sharpening of focus in the studio paintings. This past week however, I’ve been enjoying a week off the day-job, allowing me the time and head-space to consider my practice as a whole. Thankfully, all those months of investigatory  sketches has not been in vain – I have managed to make sense of it all and now do have a clear(er) direction in the studio. Less ‘slap-dash’ or ‘casualist’ than previous work, but maintaining a freedom and painterliness.

It’s early days yet, but at least I feel positive.

Periods of inactivity.

Its a side-affect of having a ‘proper job’ that occasionally I’ll not have time nor inclination to paint. The inability to spend each day advancing the work can, quite often lead to a lack of focus. Unless a kind dealer with his/her head screwed on, who knows a good thing when it slaps them in the face and offers me a considerable advance on future sales…then this situation isn’t going to change anytime soon. During these bouts of inactivity the mind still develops work – you never stop thinking and reasoning and ‘remembering’ experiences that will influence the work once it restarts.

Here is one such result of these remembrances – I drive along the north sea coast daily and am often excited by the changing colours and textures; a magical and untamed spectacle. A couple of weeks back some extreme winds caused the sea to look…well, a lot less fierce than you might imagine: Deep Viridian green with myriad white ‘flecks’ of spume. The memory of that experience survived relatively intact until I was once again able to get into the studio.

Windswept/forblåste (North Sea)

Give up?

I look at a lot of art. I mean A. LOT! Some of it good but most of the art I see in ‘real life’ or on the internet is so mediocre that I often experience fatigue and dissolusionment. Not for making (thankfully) but for looking. If what I’m looking at doesn’t feed my creative soul then perhaps it’s time to finally give up looking at other people’s art? In fairness, I don’t much like looking at my own art. 😉

Progress: In the studio

“Untitled (Sky)” Oil on Canvas – 8″ x 10″

The first ‘on canvas’ iteration of the monochrome schematic. The pentimenti creating depth and energy. Unlike the en-plein-air sketches, the studio canvases don’t, as yet have the date and time inscribed. This is something I hope to include in future but I don’t want it to look contrived. This painting was already in motion when I realised it was becoming a Monochrome, so the opportunity for any inscription had passed. Inscriptions, I think, should be applied to the virgin canvas and it may or may not remain visible.


Inspiration: Otis Jones

I’ve never thought of myself as a minimalist but more of an essentialist

Otis Jones : 3 Circles, One Red (cite: https://www.otisjones.net)

Inspiration: John Zurier

My interest in materials involves looking for the right color and how the surface affects the way light is reflected or absorbed

John Zurier : Icelandic Painting (12 Drops)

North Sea Studies: 01 April 2018

The process of documenting the sea and the sky from life seems so simple and straightforward until I actually try to do it. More often than not, after carting my ‘kit’ to the edge of the cliff before the North Sea, I sit trapped in awe at the majesty of nature and am left impotent by the impossibility of the task. I force myself to work and, astonishingly manage to produce something interesting. Somehow these responses do indeed capture something of the experience of being there.


The limitations of in-situ painting

Continuing the monochrome analysis of the North Sea, here are some acrylic studies made at source, en plein air, in-situ…etc. My preferred format for these studies is 5″ x 7″ – this size allows me to capture fairly quickly the overriding colour of any given moment. You can see rain spots on these paintings – one of the perils of outdoor painting.

As these sketches attest, it’s important to me that I be in nature when I make these chromatic studies. The subtleties of colour variation cannot be experienced through a car windscreen, from beneath an umbrella and certainly not from a photograph. The glaring issue, of course is that the weather can determine which sea and sky effects I’m able to document. The most dramatic colour variations will often be when the weather is at its most hostile, so must be documented from memory alone.