Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Little Carving

And so it was–A hot, late summer's day in 1986. I was sojourning with my mum and dad in Italy, post degree, and contemplating a future that seemed daunting rather than welcoming. I had some time on my hands, no fixed plan and I was tinkering around with a few ideas whilst helping here and there with a bit of building work, olive harvesting etc. One morning, armed with a hacksaw, a rather blunt pen knife and with a small, scruffy off cut of wood to hand I spent some time carving this little piece. The figure was based on the stereotypical sturdy, Italian small-holder. Originally, he was carrying a sack over his shoulder and back. Its crude execution and lack of artifice has always meant something to me. 

Thursday, 5 March 2015


This small, rather scruffy little corner of my parents' garden was a subject painted repeatedly for a while. This late winter rendition provokes memories real and imagined. My parents still live in the adjacent house and tend the garden but time is passing and they are older. Somehow this image holds distant echoes of time gone by. As I look at the painting I can 'hear' some sounds that never took place here but tie me in to our collective family history. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Roofs of Ripa

When I graduated in 1986 I decamped to Italy for 2 months to stay with my parents, who were living there at the time. I continued to draw, paint and even attempted a little crude 'whittling' (which I loved doing). This pastel on tinted paper of the roofs of Ripa Teatina remains with me. I know that the geometry of rooftops provide a fantastic opportunity to construct a work. This artwork is referential but it could have been the basis for exploring the way a painting exists between the object first seen and the process of constructing a painting in its own right – in terms of form and colour. Freeing the work from strict observational constraints sets up a dynamic relationship that is resolved only in the process of making.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

To Walk, To Run

I love to walk, I love to run. In fact, I have this recurring fantasy that one day I'll start walking and not stop. It isn't an escapist fantasy, though there are days when the minutiae of life becomes frustratingly burdensome and to walk is a relief. And, I love my family and every return home. To walk, to run is more about the experience. Its repetition becomes a small act of pilgrimage. Nor is every walk about covering a literal distance. Artists know that painting is a continuing trail and its end point is not finite. 

This small pastel painting of a lighthouse marks a point on the way.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Painting Masters # 6 Albert Kresch

The term a 'painter's painter' occurs reasonably regularly and seems to define a painter, usually in the latter stages of life and work, whom, whilst respected and known, rarely finds renown beyond a tight circle of friends, collectors and artists. This does not imply they are not 'successful'. It might be argued that their relative 'obscurity' has preserved a working life that has allowed them greater freedom to choose their own artistic pathway. Albert Kresch may well be one such of these. I've not seen his work beyond reproduction but I am reminded of an occasion when I was in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice. In a fine room of 20th century painting one small canvas by Emil Nolde, shone out like a jewel. I have a sense that Kresch's work is of the same intensity. Here are a few of his words in an interview with artcritical:

ALBERT KRESCH: Let me start with a couple of quotes. One is the definition of painting by Degas that I like. He says “painting is the ability to surround a Venetian red so that it looks like vermillion.” And the other is a Roualt quote, “subjective artists are one-eyed but objective artists are blind”. Now I don’t completely agree with that because I tend to feel that a painter could be both subjective and objective

Is the color something that takes form from observing the landscape, or do you find that once you are in the studio? Could you talk about your methods and how the paintings take shape?
When you’re in the landscape you’re sometimes distracted by the view. It’s necessary sometimes to pull the parts together into one complete unity. When I get to the picture later in the studio, it makes sense because you distance yourself. Bonnard talked about how he couldn’t just work straight from looking; he would turn his back to the scene from time to time. He said that Titian had the power to just look at what he does and paint what he sees at the time. I’m not that kind of painter. I believe that you sometimes need to be away from the view to get the final touches in.
I used to discuss this with my friend Bob DeNiro, who was all for just working on the painting and finishing it in nature. Bob would say to me- “Do you think Soutine would work on a landscape painting in the studio?” Well, unfortunately I didn’t get to say this to him before he passed away, but I read a memoir by Soutine’s girlfriend in which she said that he would sometimes work in the studio on these landscapes. So, I’m not alone.
Since I’ve been painting a long time, I remember a statement that Braque made: “With age, art and life come together.” When I was younger, I didn’t quite understand it, but more recently I can see what he meant. When I wake in the morning, out of the window I see the buildings, I observe the trees. At certain points in my life when I was younger, I couldn’t figure out what to do with my observations. There would be a struggle, a warfare with the painting. But more recently, when I look outside I know almost immediately the rhythms, how the colors are going to work, and what I have to do to start the painting. I think of “Hot” and “Cool” as in jazz – here meaning “Emotion” and “Formal”, where ‘formal’ is equivalent to structure. Another way to put it is “Free” and “Formal”. My artistic life has been a search for a seamless resolution, or synthesis, of the paradox in painting between structure and freedom.
See more at: artcritical.com
The image above was sourced from: The National Academy Museum, New York

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


This little painting (lo-res image has killed any subtlety), working title: The Blue Path, makes an entry not because it was composed to music but because I've been listening to Debussy (Arabesques) and The Durutti Column and somehow in that grand mix the arrangement of this painting seemed a little better. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Long Drink of Silence

Long drink of silence, or so it is since I lasted posted an entry. Does this mean inaction? No, but my energies have turned to existing works that teeter at the edge of 'success and failure'. The winter season, for many reasons, is often a time of stock-taking. As in nature goodness goes back into the roots with little outward show of what is to come. I'm planning something for 2016 which will involve the continued re-visiting of old work and the production of new paintings hinted at in previous entries. I plan to extend my creative activity into writing more and collaborative related art/design/music projects (the image attached is a self-generated poster created as a gift). 

There are also books I'm ready to read and other little things that will propel creative thinking forward whilst maintaining the framework in which the work I do prospers.