Showing all stages from concept to completion! And yes the final painting is impressionistic and muted. I wanted to contrast the violence and speed of the actual boxing (I was watching the amateur world championship on the TV) with timelessness and peace in a painting. It's a sort of cognitive dissonance - but also I know myself from training that there is a timeless and peaceful side to boxing!
I've been catching up on my painting. This is the oil painting from the cartoon I drew a few weeks ago. It's on a piece of plasterboard I pulled out of a skip about 50x40cm. There are lots of faces in this if you care to look. It's like, or maybe it's the answer to, the (Brixton) Wave, that great question in my life I asked about 10 years ago. ˚∆∆˚
More. More. More.
Beneath the sun,
He tried at least -
but lost his head.
While golden stars
and pink black and yellow
bouquets tumbled all about with
flashing egos and teeth.
Blind as to their place
disobedient to their master
surly like children
made to eat.
Jealous of the love
of passing eyes
for the light in the dark
they came to drink.
Stop trying! You'll only make it worse,
its dead and gone to seed.
It's old and twisted like a rope,
but still we work away.
There's still a thread of life within,
a grain of truth may sprout,
there's always hope where seed's concerned
as long as it's warm without.
I'll drop my bloom, and leave my rays,
I'll water the old dry roots.
and there with all the weather
you'll see a tiny sapling shoot.
I've recently added a second layer of paint to this reproduction of one of Modigliani's paintings... here's the 1916 original as a reminder.
There's only so much planning you can do before it turns into prorastination. Painting is a thing in itself and drawing sketches, to decide what to paint is a bit like riding a bicycle to learn to drive. It's not un-related, but it's also not the real thing. Once I started painting it was simple and enjoyable, and in the end quite a peaceful image, not as chalenging as my previous post on portraits.
Took a break from drawing. Have another painting on display at Ragley Studios, Alcester where I entered their open Studios competition. I got through the first round to exhibit so that's nice. I don't like the feeling of being on display much, though it is the point, I'd prefer my work to be owned and loved than peered at. It is still an endorsement I need. Also really good to be in touch with the best art teacher I had.
So as always she helped me, just a tip, she said my work reminded her of Willem de Koonig, I hadn't seen his stuff, but I know I am an abstract expressionist (for my sins) but when I saw what he was doing, I just felt like - maybe its ok to just be myself here.
My best work comes from a strong emotion. What stronger emotions should one feel than in the face of superficial dismissal of human dignity?
This is happening all over the world, Gaza, Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria. and Ferguson, Missouri.
This situation is not only a metaphor, sadly it was a person's life, it is a community's experience, a microchosm of all that is wrong in the world. The protectors turned aggressors, blatant lies believed over facts, appearances 'taken as read' by ignoramuses! Wrong assumptions, needless pain, blind eyes and guess what ensues: rage, chaos and hopelessness.
But there ARE millions of people who care. Who do see. Who aren't just looking at people from the outside. Who see people's hearts not their skin or tribe or wallet size. We can't get bigger guns, or cheezier news stations, but we can tell the truth and protect ourselves. Love anyway.
This is the painting from two days ago after another session of painting. I covered the entire canvas again, working in the morning light and I prefer it now, it has matured. There are one or two new features that came out of the original shapes giving it a clearer narrative, the colours are more balanced and it is just stronger overall. I was looking at Picabia for some guidance today, he liked to fill his canvases with multi-forms and undulating connected surfaces. I have also been looking at Klee (both with this painting and the last) because he gives me confidence to use colour in a vibrant way, for its own sake -using colour for its own colour language. I might have mentioned Auerbach before, but he sort of revolutionised my painting last year, gave me a new enthusiasm for it, because he uses so much paint. I'd always been a bit stingy without realising, layering thin careful layers, probably because I was using expensive little 37ml tubes. Since being quite fascinated and moved by his paintings which I saw hanging in London, I was driven to get home and just play with paint again. I set about sourcing some cost effective 250ml cans of industrial oil paint so that I'd have enough to feel free to use in a freer way. His paintings are so heavy they actually need a crane to hang them. Well I am nothing like that but the point about using paint for its texture got through and it is a great contrast to using a computer program which cannot imitate the look of that, let alone the experience of applying it. (Also I have updated my previous painting - with a photograph which is a truer representation of its colours in daylight).
One of the joys of oil paint is how it changes depending on the light. I am just as interested in how my paintings look in the half light as in the sunlight because well it can feel so different. If I am not horrified with my creation (in which case I burry it in a pile of rejects I have downstairs), it takes me quite a long time to look at it and work out what its doing and whether I like it. This one definitely has some features that crop up in lots of my paintings but I only notice this stuff afterwards. Anyway back to the photos: the second one looks much yellower than the first, the paint in question is pale ochre and is not very yellow at all but the light bulbs give off a yellow light and so the picture reflects back different colours! It's a minor point but it makes a big difference to my eye, it's the difference between a tickle and a punch. (Yes I know most of my paintings are really badly photographed, I might get round to correcting this!)
I bought some new paint and I love it. It's very thick and to use needs to be diluted with linseed oil (which is what oil paint is made with). The blue is amazing though. It is an amazing colour - you can see a little of it on the neck of the vase there. I made this composition a while back and painted the background, but didn't get round to painting the flowers till now. Obviously in the couple of months passing they'd dried. Fortunately I'd used photos so I could complete this just over the past couple of days (first free time in a while!). I like it.
I sketched and painted today. Its only a 50 cm tall doodle in oil. I have a new heater and its making working fun again. I have also been working on a larger painting that isn't finished yet so I might post that later when it is.
Yes, also I painted this, a while back now probably October. I was literally painting without thoughts in order to do something expressive and apart from drawing which can get quite intense and confining. I always painted and always painted for myself. Drawing is different, its informative and specific, it's more delicate and disciplined (usually) and so painting is more freeing, I don't stop myself, I just do what I feel. I had no opinion about the painting except that it was fun to do. It was physically and mentally just fun, but I actually like it now, for that reason, a snapshot on a sunny afternoon or two. But what is most amusing to me is that of the few visitors I have had to my studio of late all have asked about this painting and so I am posting it here for you too.
To take a break from drawing I did a painting yesterday. Interesting how all the drawing I have been doing has influenced my painting style. I also got my graphics tablet in the post today paid for by my lovely colleagues! I spent today familiarising myself with the pen and software. I won't share what I did as it was slightly retina scorching.
Well, what an evening! I heard it went on till 2 am in the bar over the road for some people =), for myself, I was in bed by then but not before going round the corner to a delicious Greek Restaurant with some old friends.
I only managed to take this photo at about half past eight. It was so busy all night, I was talking and taking it all in when in no time I was already on my 30 second (awkward) spot thanking people for coming and heading into the final half hour.
I guess between 40 and 50 people attended in a steady stream, over what was an intense few hours for me. I am still amazed at everyone for their support and kindness, not least for making the trek out to deepest Camberwell a bus ride from the nearest tube.
I made a few sales and even received a commission, and fingers crossed one or two people might still have their eye on a painting. We'll see. But the overriding impression I got from the event was that people really like my work, the new stuff in particular - the illustrative and cartoony drawings I have done in the last 12 months or so. Which is good news for the future.
I was also intrigued to learn which paintings interested people. Often one person will like a certain group of pictures but then another person will like a different style so I feel justified in my diversity, though I admit my range over these paintings is wide. This particular exhibition was of a very large body of work, from over a large period of time, a kind of retrospective. The next exhibition will likely be more streamlined and focused on the work I do in the next 12 months!
It was an excellent way to mark the end of one phase and the beginning of another and for that I know all the preparation has been worth it. There was a great atomosphere and I am really grateful to everyone for making it a memorable evening that will stand me in good stead in the months to come.
Some of the people (click to enlarge)
All of the pictures (click to enlarge)
This is somewhere between an interplanetary arcade game I used to play with my brother and a 70's print sleeping bag my parents had when I was a kid that I loved and spent many hours in staring at the pattern. The shapes in the painting come from several things: a photo of two wheels - the kind that stick out of industrial machinery and act as valves stopping and letting water; a Japanese Elm and the view from my desk. The rest is imagined of course, but also a product of my way of working which is to create the image out of itself by working it in layers over and over, adjusting it as I go, looking at the shapes in different ways as I work until it has life and form. It has come out like seeds, mysterious, mechanical and natural. The very first thought for the painting was to show what we cannot see - the networks that connect us online and otherwise. Each nutshell or bubble being a consciousness and my attempting to show how information flows and evolves between us. That was the first thought but once I have the outline and the colours it is pretty automatic. It is hard work. It is compulsive and emotional. Also rewarding.