Fish and finishing…

The Goldfish, 1912 Henri Matisse

Not one of mine sadly…but catching up on Waldy & Bendy I was disappointed to learn that this hadn’t made it into their top five fish paintings. It’s certainly in mine alongside at least one by William Scott who was also ignored in that selection. Arguably even more of a travesty given that Scott painted a hellava lot!

Two Scott fish pictures, one from 1949 (left) and t’other from 1981

But I digress…for longtime readers will know I’m not much of a finisher. However a glorious winter’s day (at last) gave me no excuse. So I was off to Melton district to polish off the photography for Painting The Town Red and so complete stage one of part three of The Heart Of Rural England. This is the crazy project to visit, document and distil the experience of each of the places featured in the handbooks of each of Leicestershire’s districts. Usually this is done in tandem with my pal Simon but COVID etc. Anyway he’s well ahead of me having already completed his Melton and is patiently awaiting me to catch up (fat chance). Still it was a very nice morning to visit such delights as Frisby On The Wreake!

Grinding fine…

Playground Of The Midlands: Barkby, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cms. 2020

Long time observers know I work on series of pictures.  Some are relatively constrained to a few months or a year perhaps.  Not so The Heart Of Rural England.  Actually this title has only just been chosen as the first part of it started way back in the late 1990’s.  Back then I was working on a series of canvas pieces that were mounted on board and based on imagery drawn from villages nearby my home.  These were abandoned in favour of the series of canvases that became the project titled From The Earth Wealth shown at the Tarpey Gallery in 2011.  During an interview for the Leicester Mercury I jokingly suggested I might go on from that project (featuring a painting by each place featured in the district of NW Leics handbook) to make a series for each of the other districts in the county.  This lay fallow until around 2015 when myself and my pal Simon started on the documentation of the Charnwood Borough.  In turn the canvases for each place in their handbook began towards the end of the following year.

Playground Of The Midlands: Mountsorrel, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cms. 2020

The first – Loughborough – was completed in February of 2017 (by which time the photography for the next district – Melton – was just starting) but then progress on the paintings stalled.  But though the wheels grind slow they do grind fine with the last handful of the Charnwood series (titled from a phrase in their handbook suggesting it is ‘the Playground of the Midlands’!) just drying as i write – so they should be all put to bed by year’s end.  I’ve ruefully suggested before now that with the glacial progress to date there’s a good chance the project may out live its progenitor so in order to try and forestall that I’m now pushing on. 

My intrepid conspirator Simon by a gate near Long Clawson!

This starts with reviewing the images from part three (luckily most of which are already captured) that of Melton (with yet another title from their Handbook of ‘Painting The Town Red’) and ordering the necessary canvases.  This will be followed in the new year – COVID restrictions permitting – with recommencement of the photography for part four – Harborough District – that we started on back in February of the current year but then never followed up – I cannot imagine why!

PSU Nos. 43 & 44

Painting Standing Up No. 44 Ideal Country

Sitting and waiting these two since I returned from Dorset. For what? just the final tweaks as it turned out. Sadly none of the Paintings Standing Up are going to Déda…and what’s the status of that showing of the exhibition Days Like These anyway…not sure as they (and we) are firmly mired in Tier 3. Ah well at least we got the shows title on the nail…

Painting Standing Up No. 43 Forward to Spring!

Tidy…

Whenever I am close to completing something, or when something is hard to resolve I am tempted to do some tidying. Avoidance strategy ‘par excellence‘. So find something languishing in a plan chest and dust it off, find a frame knocking about the cellar and sort it out. This one is from the 1980’s though I can’t date it for certain it’s probably 1985. It resembles another work called Landscape Incident so it finally gets a title after thirty five years!

Another Incident, Oil pastel on paper, 51 x 70 cm. 1985

A few more towards ‘topping out’…

My last post suggested we were nearing completion…well if 27 of 35 is getting close then four more is closer still. Above we have (my vision !) of Mountsorrel, Rothley, Barrow upon Soar & Beeby. Luckily very few – maybe only one – of my regular observers will know any of these places!

Playground nears completion…

Cossington, 30 x 40 cm. Oil on canvas, Nov. 2020

I started Playground Of The Midlands rather a long time back*. Nothing that unusual as anyone who has followed this for some time will testify. But with these two this part of the larger project really is coming to a close. Of course there are some seven boroughs plus the city so, even with two completed, there are six to go…phew – will I get there? Who knows? But at the current rate of completions you’d be brave to predict success!

Queniborough, 30 x 40 cm. Oil on canvas, Nov. 2020
  • I just checked and the first From The Earth Wealth canvas was completed back in 2011.

How Lisa became George…by way of Stephen

So I’m a regular follower of Dave Whatt’s blog and enjoyed his recent post featuring his take on the world’s most famous painting. He suggested it looked rather like Stephen Smith, sometimes presenter on BBC’s Newsnight (although I haven’t seen him recently – I do hope he’s alright) but I felt I saw somebody else.

It took me a while but then it ‘clicked’ I thought of Selwyn Lloyd…(who he you may ask…check him out here). Now Dave has a nifty line in lovely linocuts but I’m hopeless at them – and besides ain’t got the right kit here. However I thought I might give it a try and paint a ‘version’ with Lloyd’s face (anything to avoid getting on with my other projects). So here’s my Selwyn inflected Mona Lisa…but goodness I reckon he’s become George Osborne…remember him uh!

Another Box!

No. 1

You know how it is…you finish one box and another comes right along. So here’s A Confusion Of Clouds. Forgive me if I already signalled their arrival – I started it back in January of this year…but only just revisited it. So who knows, after all its all pre and post COVID…

No. 22
Installation View – Days Like These

And also a plug…for Days Like These, now showing at the Malthouse, Town Mill Galleries, Mill Lane, Lyme Regis until 4th Nov. (daily 10 till 4) where I’m showing a few of my Paintings Standing Up.