Its the Sea I Want…

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Its The Sea I Want, 60 x 45 cm., acrylic on canvas, September 2019

‘It bites the cliffs, fondles the coast and swings away again out to sea waving, waving,making no promises”  from the poem Its The Sea I Want by Elma Mitchell  Off to a show ‘up north’ – details to follow.

 

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In praise of…tinkering

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I recently commented upon the sad passing of Thomas Nozkowski.  I’d been resisting the monograph on him produced last year until now (not least as I have several catalogues of his) but this week took delivery of a copy.  If you are unfamiliar with his work you’ll not know of his regular practice of making over his canvas boards through erasure and re-painting.  In John Yau’s excellent essay he quotes the artist saying: “I don’t like tinkering. Whenever I go back to a painting, I try to open up the entire surface – you know, run a wash of colour over it, or I’ll scrape it down, or I’ll rub it off with a rag – so that everything is back in play.”

Now I love his work, and (I hope) in my modest way see him as something of ‘a fellow traveller’ in several respects…but not in the matter of ‘tinkering’…it’s something I absolutely love.  Indeed it goes to the heart of my dabbling!  Paintings can, and usually do, sit around for months, and even occasionally years, in order that small additions, adjustments or obliterations may take place.  It is also the case that, rather more rarely for me, the outcome can be ‘opening up’ the entire surface as well.  But it’s the tinkering that mostly takes centre stage and the very thing I celebrate.  And so it is with these three paintings all ‘in play’ since Easter but not significantly altered – as yet – from their early states…but still likely I think to some jolly tinkering!

 

The text ‘thing’

I can’t really explain why this seems important right now but it does.  So I’m reading a good deal, mainly poetry (of which I have a pretty decent, if rather ancient for the most part, collection).  When a fragment takes my fancy and fits with the emerging form of the painting I’m working on (as usual there are several on the go) then it is plucked from it’s context and put to work around the edges.

Slow Music
Slow Music, acrylic on canvas, 65.5 x 55 cms., September 2019

How the originator might feel I do not know, but for the most part, so far, those chosen have shuffled off this mortal coil.  In Tomas Tranströmer‘s case some four years back but I like to think he wouldn’t have minded too much…

Housekeeping & ‘completions’

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Conversation: Prime Real Estate, Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 61.5 cm., 2014

Do you have as untidy a studio as mine?  I only ask because I’ve been trying for quite a while now (the very decent Climate Change weather helped…the studio can be perishing in mid-winter) to do some housekeeping.  Tucked away in back a bunch of smaller canvases that, for whatever reason, never got fully resolved.  Including these two from back in the day…well five years or so ago.  Around the time I was working on a bunch of big canvases (well biggish nowadays) that showed at the Carnival Of Monsters in Beeston, Nottingham in 2014.  These had started out as the continuation of the Conversation Pieces that in turn began back in the late noughties but altered tack during the painting process erasing the more biomorphic forms with a renewed interest in formalism (albeit of a cranky kind).  I say biggish because at 7 by 5 foot they would have been considered fairly tiddly back in the days I was a student at Birmingham where the legacy of John Walker was writ large – literally so!

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Carnival Of Monsters installation, Beeston, 2014

But alongside the bigger pieces I made these smaller panels, indeed I made several even smaller still.  Getting them out suggested they might have made the cut…excepting that they needed a small adjustment here and there which is exactly what they’ve just been given.  Are these new completed works to be dated 2014/19 or is that as pretentious as I’ve always thought it to be when seen about the place..?

CircusBoy
Conversation: You Seen Circus Boy?, Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 61.5 cm., 2014