Nothing concentrates my mind like the impending end of the year.I know its foolish of me but the wholly artificial milestone of the 31st December tipping into January 1st has me frantically endeavouring to tidy up production of work. Given my equally absurd penchant for multiple objectives for my work in the form of various ‘series’ or ‘projects’ this is, as one might imagine, something of a tyranny.So I have three more of the Coastal Banners to complete – will they get resolved?I’m revisiting a host of the Playground Of The Midlands canvases to see if I can put more of them properly to bed.A number of Very Like Jazz follow ups are assuming a more prominent place in the pantheon of T2R2(those that require resolution) not least because Better Git It In Your Soul is, courtesy of the energetic and exceptionally talented and generous Robert Priseman (who has done so much for Contemporary British Painting) is on tour again in 2019.So I’m thinking this strand of my work that has been quietly bubbling under for the past year needs more of an outing.
And of course I’m heavily into part three of the Landscape & Memory project – Rock – that I’d dearly like to have fully completed by the time the clock ticks over again into 2020 but at my rate of prevarication means quite a lot of cogitation as well as more painting (though mercifully all of them are in play now).Of course I have all those small things that bump along more or less all the time.The Wonky Geo series, now heading north of 60 in total, a set of little abstract landscapy things as yet untitled (and unseen) and two more tiny boxes full of half baked and half realised workouts…oh…and the glacial progress of the i series as above. And just to top it off there’s a host of Paintings Standing Up, experiments in three dimensions, that I cannot for the life of me decide are worthwhile pursuing or not.Yep nothing fogs the mind like the impending Year End!
Some ways back (around 2006/7) I began making very small pictures by making the odd mark on tiny shop bought stretchers and having them lie around the studio whilst I got on with bigger jobbies. A little triptych of them sold on our expedition to the ‘Supermarket’ in Sweden in 2010, you can see me pontificating at the event here. Over the past two years all my other series have rather overwhelmed these but I’m now enjoying ‘tickling up’ a few more. Its a good way of freeing yourself up whilst in the studio when things don’t seem quite ‘right’. I took to giving them names of tracks on my iPod beginning with ‘I’.
Still struggling to shake off this damn cold – I just keep coughing and spluttering – and feeling under par so its hard to motivate oneself to get on with bigger work. So I’ve been tidying up and updating the “I” series. These have been knocking around my studio for years now. I sent two of the early ones off to Sweden back in 2012 for the ‘Supermarket’ fair and as luck would have it sold one (below) to an art dealer from Umea.
Given the way they are arrived at one has to be careful not to ‘force’ the process or it all loses whatever freshness they might have…as it is they tend to slip out off the back of protracted working periods. Not least as they seem to work out best when oil and acrylic get mixed up on them. So as I’ve been working exclusively with acrylics (apart from a brief spell last summer in Italy) for over eighteen months there are several sitting around just waiting for the right slick of oil to see them off.
As it happens for quite ‘other’ reasons I’ve been contemplating just such a move (back to oils) with what I’m hoping will be the next large series of pictures that I’m still working out at the moment. Though its unlikely that I’ll be getting these properly underway until later in the year, with several other projects dominating my event horizons before then. Coming up immediately is Salon 6 curated by Rachael Pinks…be nice to see you there if you can make it!
I’ve mentioned the ‘I’ series before – the dozen or so small canvases I keep around for those moments when you are between actions on the bigger pictures and there’s a little colour going spare, on the brush or in the pot – and now they are boxed up to try and encourage me to get on with the job in hand. The first eight aluminium circles are to hand now and I really have to get cracking with them. The test piece bonded to the mdf nicely and sits just a little way off the wall. Another aspect of this is that 1mm thick aluminium has no really discernable edge something that like a lot of other abstract painters I know is always some sort of issue (what a sad bunch we are!). The other seven are now bonded, and tomorrow or maybe Monday if we go walking – and today’s weather if it holds says we ought to – will be primed. Another task yesterday was testing out exactly how to go about the painting process. I considered a variety of approaches and weighed up the medium. I may be wrong but my hunch was that oils might struggle to dry on such an unforgiving support especially as I’m fond of giving the mix a big slug of wax medium. In any event I’d pretty much decided to try and reduce the surface facture a little so it seemed acrylic ought to be the obvious choice. However that seemed maybe a little too obvious so I was casting around for other media – household gloss maybe? Enamels? Commercial car spray even? But in the end maybe obvious is best.
And so it is…at least my first test outs suggest that once the gesso ground is on it will be. Having roughed out a gesso ground there was little else to do…except…
My wife bless her recently shifted her practice over to oils and so we dragged out of her studio five containers of acrylics, some empty, some with a dribble or two, still others untouched. So I spent a happy two hours sorting through this windfall…not exactly avoidance again but keeping me from the main objective.
Just before I decided to call it a day though, I checked the gesso and found it dry…so far so good…dare I put a little colour on…yep and I think its gonna work out fine…
I usually keep a dozen or so very small canvases around the studio that are used as and when a little paint is going spare – on the brush or in the pot…and they kick around acquiring marks until I think they are good and ready. More often than not they are assembled in pairs or trios and given a title that always starts with the first-person singular nominative case personal pronoun utilised in a song title. In this case I’ve used an Ivor Cutler ditty…