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…

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…

Ol’ rough cartography…

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It’s been a while…since I last posted one of the Rough Cartography series.  This is one of three OS maps that used to live on the walls of a department of the University of Sheffield.  I think one of my friends rescued them from the bin for me.  They were rolled up in one of the many cardboard tubes of stuff that is part of my ‘back end of 2018  tidy up’…and I’ve decided to give them a sprucing up and create a kind of Cornwall triptych.  Nearly (gawd help us) twenty years back I was asked to give a talk to our Foundation students about sketchbooks and took quite a few along to the session.  One of the questions was “why do you colour in so many maps”?  I couldn’t rightly say then…nor now really!

The terrors of twilight…

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I’m not a great fan of the winter months – like quite a few painters I suspect.  The absence of light gets to me.  Not so much in the early morning sessions as the coming of day sort of makes up for the gloom.  No it’s more that time around three in the afternoon on dull days like today when the darkness starts properly creeping back.  And the getting up early hasn’t helped of course as I’m getting tired with it.  I do have my lovely daylight lamp to offset the gathering gloom but my productivity takes quite a dive.

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So I tend to hunker down after lunchtime, sitting in the kitchen, tinkering with my Wonky Geo‘s.  There’s 58 completed in the series now – and here’s 54 to 56 for perusal.  I’ve said before that these are the fun things where ideas, even bloody silly ones, can be tested out.  And the pile of uncompleted ones is heavy, like properly heavy, now.  Goodness knows how many I’ll have eventually!

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Ah what bliss!

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Ah what bliss!

With nowt worth watching on terrestrial telly nowadays I was drawn to The Trip to Italy last evening. On retiring my wife suggested I shouldn’t be so envious of funds as I’d expressed, quite forcibly, the desire to sample some of the venues visited in the programme…and I agreed that actually I was doing alright enough with our requiring 500+€ a night accommodation in the Med (not that it wouldn’t be fun…).  This came back to me this morning with the Mediterranean weather of late having deserted us for ‘typical’ English summer (cold, wet and windy) and I decided to bring a small banner work into the kitchen where I can work on it in the warmth.  Along with a pot of decent coffee and a soundtrack of Corrie Dick’s wonderful ‘Impossible Things album life doesn’t get any better…

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As it happens Corrie turns up on the new Dinosaur album…notionally Laura Jurd’s band but I reckon now truly a collective effort with – certainly Corrie’s input – but also as intense a presence from the other two members, Elliot Galvin on synths and Conor Chaplin on bass. Together they have made some especially extraordinary music this time around, not that their first album wasn’t a great piece of work (recognised with a Mercury nomination). But this one is a peach mixing jazz with, well, just about everything, all sorts of influences from sixties UK jazz (think Gilles Peterson’s Impressed samplers), through roots folk, to heavy metal riffs all bound together with Laura’s superb trumpet work that has a fluency and lyricism blended with an edge that evidences her understanding of the very best contemporary jazz phrasing and technique.

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Anyway enough of the music reviews (probably best left to better ears than mine) and back to the paintings. As it happens I’m less focussed on the pictures at present (they seem mercifully to be taking care of themselves both colour and structure wise at the moment) and more thinking about presentation. Originally they were to be proper scrolls with canvas backing and rollers but then I decided to go with framing, cropped to the edges in a white stain wood. But now I’m considering an even more expensive solution, plain oak with a mount – go figure! (and not so much bliss…)