Planning…

The Fiddler, 2017

I like to start the year with a bit of a plan. It’s a ‘bit of’ because I’m a fiddler at heart and can’t help hopping around the studio dealing with this and that. And, as always, there are (as it is disputed that Harold Macmillan may have or not said) “events, (my) dear boy, events”. This year of course we have the on-going saga of COVID to contend with but equally smaller things come up from time to time including the possibility of invitations to participate in shows that may (or may not!) happen.

So it is that I’m currently rethinking my plan to start a series of large canvases immediately and focus instead on the third part of The Heart Of Rural England (Painting The Town Red) [scroll back to Dec 3rd and 15th entries and more] and another previously abandoned project…I arrived at Art School ‘proper’ (my Diploma course at Falmouth) in the autumn of 1970 so 71 was my first year of being a ‘proper’ tyro artist.  Reaching 70 (as I shall do this summer) brings a full fifty years of practice around.  Back in 2012 I began a series of 1 foot square canvases to represent each year of painting that – at that time – I intended to be a set of 45 to culminate on my ’official’ retirement date.  Moving studio kyboshed that and those to date in 2013 remained boxed up in my studio back at the Chapel till now.  However with the impending date of my 70th it seems a good time to push on – as Primo Levi said “if not now, when” – so the project – now titled Fifty Year Itch – is underway again with the ambition to post an image of each in turn from April 17th through to June 6th.  I thought a short commentary would be an idea for each picture so that will be posted on my blog through the same two months. Watch this space as they say.

A first one for 1970…not to be included in the final fifty…

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.

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.