Of course the larger canvas disappeared years back but at least several of these studies are still about.
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…
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…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!
Sometimes it just gets going…and what a good thing too, or I doubt I’d bother. But just occasionally I get started on some new pieces and everything seems to jog along pretty well. So it is with the Rock pieces, third part of the Landscape & Memory project.
Of course tomorrow morning it may all turn to dust, that happens just as regularly!
Still as the light fades (and today was proper Spring until four this afternoon) I’ve these three plus five others that have seemingly got something I can work with. Tomorrow I’m out and about but it will be interesting to return to the studio first thing just to see how I feel about them…
I’m back working with some serious intent after a dose of ill health – and focussed on completing three bodies of work. The first of these is getting into the third and final part of the Landscape And Memory project, following on from the wood & water sections its onto rock. And an opportunity to review the working process. For the first part I pushed collaged elements about with pva and acrylic paint across the whole selection of papers (some 21 in total) and then began working up each one, selecting text components as I went. With the water work I’ve treated them piecemeal, with far fewer collaged elements, and it has been a far tougher ask. So back to the first way of working in this section.
It has me thinking over how much process impacts on the making of non-figurative work, something that maybe has a more profound influence on how paintings work out than might be imagined. How and why we choose elements, especially using collage, is fascinating to me. I try not to analyse it too much though in case I find myself shifting stuff around to ‘fit’ certain kinds of imagery….though hang on don’t these look mountainous! Just as I’m re-reading material focussed on the peaks of ranges, in the west and the east…and good grief now Schama is talking dragons…obviously I need to exercise caution now…
We’ve all experienced those times when making the effort to get to a show is tough. After a round trip to Grimsby (210 miles) another hike down to Coventry as the evening drew in wasn’t favourite. But I really wanted to see Visual Stream, a solo show by the painter Jeff Dellow. And it was a real pleasure. Over recent years I can count on the fingers of two hands (and I see a lot of shows) outings of abstraction by individual artists (they tend to be as rare as hen’s teeth given the predilections of our current curatorships) and fewer still that give one the rarer still feeling of complete satisfaction and – joy – an extremely precious commodity in the contemporary art world.
It’s the first thing that comes at you in this well selected (by fellow painter Matthew Macaulay) show that presents a small selection of Jeff’s little panel paintings and a goodly number of the larger canvases is a joyfulness and playfulness in the opportunities that abstraction offers. And the colour palette is as joyful, vibrant, diverse and equally as exuberant as the handling.
There are a range of tropes at work of course, but these are varied and diverse…just sufficiently repeated to bring the stylistic consistency to the whole but never dull or lazy. Every so often you spot another, different and original painterly handle, a flick of the wrist, a smear, another kind of grid played off against a box or a plane, and so on. An endless variation of the painters thinking, an expansive repertoire based on quite a few decades of concentrated looking and absorbing what paint can do and how it can be deployed without resorting to mimesis. There is deep time locked into these pictures, that despite their alarming freshness, also embed a lifetime of intensity in the consideration of abstraction. The show runs in the Lanchester Research Gallery, in the Graham Sutherland building on Cox Street, Coventry until 2nd February 2018 – if you care about abstract painting in the present you need to get along there!
Its fascinating when you find yourself doing something you never imagined you would…and very rewarding too. When Mindy came into my life less than three months back I was mildly fearful. I never was one for pets…and the idea of a dog in my life was definitely not on my agenda. But she has turned out to be a joy – I couldn’t face the idea of a yapping, jumpy dog in the house – but she’s so relaxed and well behaved that its a pleasure to have her around in the studio. But its the lunchtime walk thats invaluable, not only because it means I get some decent additional physical exercise (though goodness knows I need it), but also because of the thinking space in the painting process. Of course there’s plenty of that in front of the work too. After all I doubt few studio based artists spend more than a fraction of their practice actually wielding the pencil, brush or chisel or whatever but far more gawping at the work and pondering the big question – what next?
But the time away from the work is precious too. Its the churn that counts. On our trips around the village I get to ponder the important questions about the really tricky aspects of the process…the choice of colour for the shape, the texture of the colour – will it be a glaze or solid, the brush size…or is it all damned and am I going to scrub, tear or sand it out completely (or just partially). All this is stewed in the old grey matter and sometimes decisions emerge – or if they don’t then the brain exercise at least helps when the fateful moment comes when you are back in front of it and have to act.