More gallivanting…

Cormorants (I think?) sunning themselves in the early morning on the Menai Straights with Snowdonia as the backdrop…

It may seem greedy to be off again only a few days after our Hebridean adventure but we were on Anglesey for a few days to give Joan a break from Breadsall (for the first time in nearly two years). Just above Beaumaris and at a place I’d recommend to all. Glorious!

Redmile – Painting The Town Red oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. 2021

Back now…to a heatwave at home…but at least it insures the proper drying of yet another canvas in the Painting The Town Red group of my larger on-going Heart Of Rural England project.

No Reports!

That’s us, in the hut next to the car – the other building is a work in progress…

In my last post I suggested there might be posts from the Outer Hebrides…sadly our location precluded it. Not because we had no signal, the 4G was healthy…but I swiftly exhausted my data allowance! But actually it did me a favour – quiet and no distractions from the amazing environs we were in and those we visited. I will refrain from posting endless glorious photos of these islands, if you haven’t been just go.

Some items to catch up on. First the CBP prize; one of the very few competitions worth entering, because its relatively cheap to do so and run by, and for painters. Still a week to submit!

Now onto postcards…I’m currently involved in two projects. The one above :art on a postcard and also : secret post card show 2021

And lastly two shows I’d love to see but fear I may not get to….both by painters of my generation who I admire greatly. If you can get along and support them:

Freya Purdue

Trevor Sutton

The loose ends…

Mort’s Hermaness, Acrylic on paper, 110 x 30 cm. 2021

I’ve a passion for poetry that began in my early teens. Actually it went underground between my twenties and sixties but has come back roaring in the past decade. I have an inkling its that way as regards our obsessions for many of us. I’ve rifled through a fair number of my favourites for the text that wraps around my paintings of late – Redgrove, in particular and Charles Wright is another. But recently I’m rather taken with Helen Mort‘s Division Street. Not least because of her poem North Of Everywhere that takes Shetland as inspiration. Perhaps because her work is more contemporary I’m wondering what the etiquette and legality is in using fragments of these many poets? Of course – as yet – I’ve not exhibited these works much (several were installed at Deda last winter but, courtesy of COVID, nobody saw them) and other than this blog they’ve not been publicly released but…

Mort’s Shetland, Acrylic on paper, 137.5 x 33.5 cm. 2021

Anyway these two have been on the studio wall since late June, so time to get them completed ahead of our holiday…stand by for reports from the Outer Hebrides…

Mopped Up…

The Glowing Tree, Oil on paper, 63 x 52 cm. 1985

All being well – and one isn’t as sure as in past times – we should be off to the Outer Hebrides at the end of next week…nice… When I was employed the holiday season always saw me endeavouring to tidy loose ends and clear work before departing. Nowadays the studio serves that purpose. So I’ve been digging out work that, for one reason or another has never been properly archived. The Glowing Tree has for many years been stuck to the back of another work on paper (a result of a sticky glaze). Now restored and thoroughly dry it joins the stack in one of the 15 plan chests of ‘stuff’.

Lost Chord, acrylic on canvas, 186 x 36 cm. 1995

Lost Chord is a canvas that somehow was never resolved to my satisfaction but I’d kept rolled up in the back of the store. Now its re-stretched (quite a job…my wife helped wrestle it into submission) and given a subtle ‘make over’ so its a mute point as to whether the date is strictly accurate. Still two pieces of work mopped up and archived ahead of the hols.

More thinking…

Frisby (Painting The Town Red), oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. 2021

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what you are trying to do – take for instance the project I’ve mentioned once or twice – the Hinckley and Bosworth leg of my Heart of Rural England series. I went out on the first trip for this leg two weeks back and again this past week. But I was struck by the fact that my enthusiasm for taking the photographs that have previously made up the imagery for the canvases has somewhat waned. Not surprising really given that as I go into this part of the project it gets harder and harder to find arresting and original images that might make up the canvas in question.  After all Burbage (trip 1) is really no more than a suburb of Hinckley nowadays and is not so different to several others…The villages of Ratcliffe Culey, the ‘Sheepy’s – Magna & Parva, and Sibson (trip 2) much like many others across the county.  Maybe it’s time for rethink?

Craxton (Painting The Town Red), oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. 2021

I mused on this whilst walking across to Burbage Common – a walk that took me away from the ‘town’ and into the Leicestershire Countryside, and again whilst journeying between the latter group, a longer trip of around 7.5 miles.   Of course I took plenty of pictures in and between locations that might just be what I’m looking for on this leg of the journey.  But it needs mulling over for a bit….more thinking required!

Something that doesn’t need much further thought is the alarming decline of our rivers and streams.  The second trip involved criss-crossing Shenton Brook several times and passing the rivers Sence and Tweed.  All seemed pretty much as dead as the dodo in regard to wildlife…a sad story if my surmise is correct? Meanwhile two more completed paintings from part three of the Heart Of Rural England (Melton Borough – Painting The Town Red)

Size and scale…

Sketch for January, Weatherland series…mixed media on paper, image 30 x 48 cm. 2020

As regular readers know I have a genius for prevarication. I have been planning the Weatherland series since I completed my large Landscape & Memory project some time back. I managed to make sketches for the twelve paintings – one for each month – that will comprise this series (rather than the 54 in the L&M group!) but have been dithering for many months on the size of these canvases. Reviewing the sketches much of my agony revolves around the question of scale. Not least as regards the size of certain marks translating into the body movements required to accomplish them and the relationships between them. The question of scale is often in mind when planning something in advance – one reason I often just get going with a panel or canvas rather than having it plotted out. But I’ve now settled on a metre high by 1.6 wide…not quite exactly the dimensions of the sketches but pretty darn close – and critically just right in the sweep of my hand across the canvas…

Edmundthorpe, Painting The Town Red, 30 x 40 cm., oil on canvas, 2021

So I now need to sort out the dreary business of stretchers, canvas and priming not my favourite pastime. Luckily the Heart Of Rural England project that is trucking on (now on the third part – Melton Borough:Painting The Town Red) has a rigid 30 x 40 cm. format that clarifies matters, not least in utilising shop bought ready made canvases. This group is progressing nicely now; Edmundthorpe is the twelfth completed with the other fifteen on the studio wall (at least four of which are pretty much cooked).

The Journey continues…

Days Like This (Coda), collage, acrylic & ink on paper, 100 x 140 cms.

I’ve rather been neglecting this site whilst working on my Fifty Year Itch project. But with two days to go till completion I’m turning back to other work. I’ve posted a fair few banners with the Days Like This title over the various lockdowns…is it foolhardy to title the latest in this manner? I guess we’ll find out as the journey continues…

The Eighties…

I’m off to a seminar (a rare occurrence nowadays)…this Friday in Coventry organised by the energetic Matthew Macaulay.  Its about British Abstract Painting in the 1980’s and as a painter who is British, works non-representationally (pretty much from 1968 till now) and was about in the eighties I thought I’d pop along. Though the eighties was a weird time for me…as I went a bit figurative (ish)!  Not that I was the only one it seems…quite a few painters seem to have wobbled about a bit – strange days indeed.  Quite what I thought I was doing I’ve not the slightest idea thirty plus years on…

End Of Empire
An End Of Empire, 72 x 56 ins., oil on canvas, 1985

Anyway I’m working on a short piece on the topic…and will post it here as and when…with maybe some thoughts on what transpires on the day.

Lack of recognition..

Newton Linford
Newton Linford, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm., May 2018

Lack of Recognition…not of myself (though nobody would turn down more!) but of the location of the latest of the Playground Of The Midlands group of works.  After all not even the most observant of the denizens of the village of Newton Linford would recognise it from the painting I’ve made.  Its a pity really as this one has been a bit of a blighter.  Not helped by the inordinate delay in tackling it (and the rest of them that have been languishing in the studio for yonks.  Still I’m redoubling my efforts, as with several other series, to get them resolved rather than moving onto fresh work!

Quorn
Quorn, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm., May 2018