Sunday, 13 November 2016

New work: Oil v Watercolour

After a hiatus of a couple of weeks  I have managed to produce a couple of new paintings.  I have struggled of late to find time, while organising the arts festival Carshalton Artists Open Studios. SO this weekend was refreshing to get down to working again. The theme is a return to Lyme Regis, in Dorset, during the summer of 2016.  As usual with Lyme Regis the wether was terrible, cold, stormy, perfect!

These days are when inspiration comes in so many wonderful levels. The initial quickly scribbled drawings and notes are a starting point towards so many variations on a theme.

Cold Summer Cob, Lyme Regis

The Cob that day felt so exposed, so cold for a summers day.  The clouds rolled over the sky from right to left as they drifted out to see.  It was all so dramatic.  The painting above is painted in oil, with pencil and tea.  I like the minimal use of colour; and believe me that was the hardest thing, with layers of paint removed by palette knife or cloth.

Following this I wanted to return to another theme, of Carshalton Ponds.  This was again from a sketch, produced over a long period of time, mainly because it was warm!

Evening Summer Sun, Carshalton Ponds

I have produced an oil from the same sketch, so wanted to try return to the theme but in watercolour with charcoal.  I liked doing this particular picture, due to the spontaneity of drawing with charcoal and overlaying with colour.  Working back into the piece as it dries also needed the faster working methods that I have become to enjoy.  It all gives the piece an expressive quality and I enjoy using expressive mark marking, that becomes a direct consequence from working so fast.

Taking this last piece on further is now an interest to me and I will revisit themes and sketches I have done before.   


Saturday, 8 October 2016

NEW WORK: Dorset landscapes

After a recent Dorset trip I have been working back in the studio painting.  Themes are coming easy now, with more work in sketchbooks to use as visual and written reference.

I have also expanded the colour palette, to include colours I have not used before. The results seem fresh I feel and though these are small pieces they are expressive in both colour and mark making.


Monday, 26 September 2016

New work: charcoals

I am enjoying working in charcoal at the moment. It is giving me the freedom of line that I have been looking for. I just want to draw and draw now, working on blending with shape, tone and line.

The enjoyment is coming with having more confidence in my ability to record quick and simple outlines and my line. But what I am interested in is working with that over tone.  The last two drawings I have done achieve that I feel.  I have laid down areas of very dark tone and taken them back by rubbing into them and working those areas around the body.  Then the line is placed back on top, to emphasise the tonal qualities in that line too.  

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Inspiration: Charcoal

Dennis Creffield ‘Norwich from the East End: High Summer’, 1987
© Dennis Creffield
I am enjoying a current experimentation with charcoal so someone said I should be looking at Dennis Creffeld, he of Warwick Cathedral large charcoal fame.  He did produce some stunning work and as soon as I looked at these it did remind me of what I have been looking at going towards with not only my charcoals, but my paintings too.

Left is 'Norwich from the East End: High Summer 1987, from the Tate.  Typical of Creffeld, the charcoal drawing is a quick yet considered study of an old building that is steeped in the grime of history.  What I like about the study is how Creffeld has worked in both loose, broad, textured strokes that use the side of the charcoal and mixed that with angled, bold lines.  One mark (the wider more vague mark) describes the form in stark light and shade, while the other (angled and bold line) picks out the structure of the architecture.

What is interesting is how Creffeld is pushing back elements by smudging and while bringing others forward, even using white chalk? in the final stages as a highlight.

In Leon Kossoff's charcoal self portrait, also from the Tate, you can see a similar approach.  Kossoff is deleting areas with rubber and working back on top with repeated layers of charcoal to create an energetic and sculptural work.

You can see that Schiele has wanted the direct approach, eager to capture the pose of the nude before the moment is lost. His use of continuos line follows the lines of the body, moving in directions and creating form just with weight in the line.

This is what I wish to achieve.
However, I feel that both miss maybe what I am enjoying about charcoal.  I am inspired by both pieces, but feel that it is the use of line that I am beginning to enjoy about charcoal.  A variety of marks can be achieved as can a quality of line.  I mean that the line can go for a walk, while describing contours and texture almost in the same line. Egon Schiele's charcoal studies on paper study are the epitome of this idea.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Royal academy Summer show 2016

Another year, another hang.  Ok, so this one is slightly more interesting. So what are the reviews, who cares really? it's what you see and are inspired by in an exhibition thats more important I feel. So I spent a morning wondering the halls of the Royal academy doing just that, seeing and being inspired.

I had a passing interested in Ron Arad's 21st century big brother statement piece that chases you across the forecourt of Burlington House. The vast mechanised steel structure does pursue you in a random fashion and will video you, if you stand still long enough to be zoned in on.  The entrance is not a par on the celebration of all things colour, that was last year though. Michael Craig Martin's 2015 hang was very imposing and such vivid and brave colour pallets did pose questions I have never seen in the show before. Last year did feel more of a 'show' in a circus tent kind of way, almost like the RA had turned into a big brother contestant shouting 'look at me!' So this year was always going to be different. The difference was that the hang was the same confusing miss match as years gone by so at least I could focus on what was important, the art. Fred Cuming appeared very early on and has many paintings in this years show, the first three of which were in Gallery III. Stormy Sea, Dawn Sea and Evening Sea as a set are exactly where I am as a painter at the moment.

Fred Cuming: Dawn Sea, Ol on Canvas

These paintings quite aggressively divide the picture into back-ground, mid-ground and fore-ground, each equal in size and reading vertically from the back-ground at the top to foreground at the bottom. Seems all very traditional yes? However, what is striking is that as the back-ground sky gives way to an almost geometrically constructed waves a shift from the figurative to slight abstraction appears, so much so that the final foreground band is then completely abstract. I like this and this use of bands could be something I take forward into my own work.  What was evident also was that Cuming seems to have used heavily applied paint in an array of expressive mark making techniques.  This technique is repeated often with his work this year and one stand out painting is Tennyson Down, Evening Light.  An oil painting of large proportions, but different to the previous, with the composition broken up by vertical planes of white and detailed rock.  This painting fascinated me the most.  It felt almost like a collage, with the highly detailed rendering in areas that feel almost cut and glued onto the picture surface. The sky is much more stylised and colours harmonious, apart from the rocks, with glow against an almost flat white back-ground.  The more you loo the more you see and while the painting puzzled me, due to the nature of it being so different to Cumings other work, it has again inspired me to continue to pursue the abstract v figurative elements thats are so clear here, but are also becoming more important in my own work.

Fred Cuming, Tennyson Down, Evening Light, Oil on Canvas
Mark Rochester, Towards Smoothlands, Late Afternoon, Late October, Acrylic and Coloured Pencil on Paper

Mark Rochester has also used these figurative v abstract languages in his work, yet I feel his work had a freshness about it.  This is partly due to the medium, acrylic and coloured pencil, but also the looseness of the composition and pattern work. It is the patterning that really strikes a cord with me.  The bottom right section of the painting becomes dots, dashes and broad brush marks, over areas of wash or untouched paper surface. This painting is loose in its appearance but meticulous in its planning. Love it!

Anselm Kiefer is also a favourite of mine, but I have shied away from his work recently.  I found the recent major RA show hard to take in, with that amount of inner angst too much in one siting.  However this is a seriously uplifting breath of fresh air.  The heavy tonal values and body of the paint in his piece lifted by colourful blobby interventions that almost float onto the surface.  Kiefer must have had a good week!
  Anselm Kiefer, Bose Blumen, mixed media on lead

El Anatsui Avocado Coconut Egg, Aluminium and Copper Wire

The next piece to impress me was El Anatsui's large aluminium and copper wire wall hanging.  A stunning construction of recycled aluminium cans that are placed into patterns reminiscent of Kente cloth.  So maybe pattern is the theme for me this year!  Once again the use of pattern is obviously key to the piece, but its structure is only realised in the whole and the individual patterns could be seen as random when placed next to the opposite areas of weave.  

What you can expect at the Summer Show is a collection of Norman Ackroyd's that make you stop and look and once again this year did not disappoint.  The wow factor with Ackyrod is that nature seems to have been harnessed in the most simple and subtle of the pieces.  No mark is not thought of and that print makers process adds to an almost zen like understanding of the connection between nature and art.
Norman Ackroyd, A Wiltshire Skyline, Etching

The etching 'A Wiltshire Skyline' is testament to this process of simplicity.  The weather sweeps in and from right the left leaving drifting wisps of delicate cloud rendered in soft grey tones, but this is again abstract with just a tree line the only figurative element that keeps the composition together. 

Overall I did like the summer show 2016 and left happy and conent, not confused and tiered like years before.  So thats a good thing.  I think that I have become used to taking from this show what I want though and not worrying about its concept or construction and thats the key.  Just walk around, look at the work and go, taking with you only the inspiration of single pieces.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

New work: South Downs Landscapes

I have been busy recently.  Since drawing and painting from life in landscape and in studio life drawing sessions, I have been finding my feet and becoming to find an expression I like.

Current landscape work is below. This work is entirely based on trips to the South Downs and on the watercolour sketches you have seen.  The type of abstraction I am achieving could not be done without those sketches.  I find abstraction without observation to be a fruitless and pointless task.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Idea: Digital Self Portraits

Here are a couple of new self portraits, from pencil drawing, turned digital and I think I'll play around with staining them or taking them into the darkroom.  I like the idea of using portraits to explore a range of techniques.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

New work: South Downs minis and Coastal scenes

Here are some new paintings and drawings, executed in a rush of creativity over a week. They are all miniatures, 5x7inch all of the South Coast.

The paintings are some of the oils from plein air sketches.

 Original sketch

 Oil on board

  Oil on board
Original pencil drawing

 Oil on board

Oil on board

Monday, 20 July 2015

New work: miniture oils

Miniatures could be the way forward, to help with exploring brash marks and colour.  I am enjoying these and they could be sellable.  The first of these is an old theme, the cob Lyme Regis, painting 7x5 oil on canvas board from plein air sketch.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Idea: Quick portraits in pencil and digital

I like these ideas for portraits.  Created with brushes on an i phone, using simple mobile phone camera, you can get some interesting effects.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

New work: Horses digital v handmade painting

Here are new works, a combination of oil painting and digital work.  I stumbled across the originals recently and have enjoyed updating them, by scanning and using a digital v handmade process. These are finished works that I could sell as digital prints, but made could be pushed further in a series.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Life drawing: charcoal works

A couple of new pictures from life drawing at Francus Wardel's group in Croydon. I am liking the use of charcoal for a heavy and more sculptural line.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Exhibition visit: Egon Schiele: The Radical nude

I have recently been to visit Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude at the Courtauld Gallery in London. This was a long awaited exhibition for me, as I have been a fan for many years.

The show certainly did not disappoint.  I am in awe of Schiele's use of line, simple yet wild, confident yet free.  It was this stripped down continuous journey across the body that puts Schiele's expression vastly above any other.

I produced some quick thoughts, on my IPhone, just quick views on what I saw as the main points to this use of line and to colour; this colour is important as well, but the line is key.

'Mime van Osen with crossed arms'

 'Side View of a Semi Nude'

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sunday, 26 October 2014

New work:digital sketching, using photography and photoshop

These new experiment with photography are an extension of what I have been trying to achieve with my photography and could be an interesting area to explore.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Idea: digital sketches

I like the idea of playing on top of photos using photoshop.  Photoshop is a wondrous thing! I have enjoyed playing with filters and shapes this week.  But these seen too contrived and I am sure I could be more subtle.