I’m getting towards the mid point of my ‘Fifty Year Itch‘ project that sees me posting a painting a day representing each year of practice from 1971 to my 70th birthday in June. But of course these pictures have all been made now. So back to the ‘day job’ that – for me at least – is now just getting on with the various other series of paintings and objects that make up my art practice now. It wasn’t always like this and the ‘Fifty Year itch‘ documents the ways in which earning a living both enhanced and distracted from making art in the past. Luckily all behind me now (though C19 lockdown reminds us all of how social interaction is vital to our sense of wellbeing).
So back to the third part of my project to get round each district of Leicestershire making a painting for each town, village or hamlet (as defined in the district handbooks). ‘Painting The Town Red‘ is the leg that takes in Melton borough and here’s my quixotic take on two more places. Besides this I’m still working on the Paintings Standing Up…with several larger pieces in the process of being resolved (at least to my satisfaction).
The weekend also brought a treat – my copy of Andrew Bracey’s excellent book on his Enough Is Definitely Enough project arrived plus my individually made artwork from him. My contribution to the project is modest enough so I can recommend the book as a whole without seeming too immodest! Congratulations are due to Andrew, not only for the idea, but the exhibition and the publication that are a considerable achievement.
These panels were carried over from Very Like Jazz…from a few years back. So I’ve dusted them off and worked them up dreaming my dreams of Marx and Nash in NYC – I don’t know if either of them ever visited but no matter…
And amongst them are one or two from other reveries…
And so I’ve 50 up in the black box series…A Confusion Of Clouds. In fact 50 seems the right number to fit tidily into the chosen receptacle. And there’s only one more box so a 100 will be it – in due course…and who knows how long it will be before that happens? In any event enjoy numbers 39 through 50 here below.
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.
The year draws to a close. 2020 is getting a bit of a kicking it seems but that’s hardly fair…it never asked for the pandemic that has dominated it nor for the incompetent and dithering administration here in the UK that has made it even more damaging than it would have been otherwise (no need to worry just wash yer hands, crony track & trace/PPE fiascos, ‘eat out to spread out’ etc. etc.). However being restricted to barracks for the most part meant (for those of us lucky to have the requisite resources on hand) work continued. My current predominant series – the Lunar Pulls canvases and the Days Like These composite paper works are proceeding apace…and the last two completions of 2020 are here.
In the course of digging up material for a post to come in the New Year (you lucky people) I also came across an artist that has always intrigued me – Tony (Newton Haydn) Stubbing. He appears at the very end of my copy of Herbert Read’s book that I bought for 21 shillings in 1967 and that, dog eared, mouldy, and falling to bits, is still with me today. The marvellous blog entry above gave me more information and pointers on this artist and alerted me to the fact that the Tate own five works…I wonder when last any were on display?
You can see that he was in good company but unlike Sandra Blow, Hartung or Baziotes is pretty much forgotten today (I’m pretty sure Kotik and Gischia are also relatively unknown here in the UK by me at least…Schumacher I’ve seen very occasionally). The reason, I’d suggest, is much to do with his life being lived mainly outside the UK (in France/Italy and then the States). He shares this liminality with an artist I’ve previously researched and written about – the American Charles Houghton Howard – although their work is pretty much chalk and cheese. But both I’d suggest worth another look. In fact were I a curator with some clout I’d put the two of them together in a show – but that kind of interesting quality painting show is rarely evidenced in today’s UK art scene, not that currently we have much of one! It will get easier though and I wish you all the best for 2021.
Not one of mine sadly…but catching up on Waldy & Bendy I was disappointed to learn that this hadn’t made it into their top five fish paintings. It’s certainly in mine alongside at least one by William Scott who was also ignored in that selection. Arguably even more of a travesty given that Scott painted a hellava lot!
But I digress…for longtime readers will know I’m not much of a finisher. However a glorious winter’s day (at last) gave me no excuse. So I was off to Melton district to polish off the photography for Painting The Town Red and so complete stage one of part three of The Heart Of Rural England. This is the crazy project to visit, document and distil the experience of each of the places featured in the handbooks of each of Leicestershire’s districts. Usually this is done in tandem with my pal Simon but COVID etc. Anyway he’s well ahead of me having already completed his Melton and is patiently awaiting me to catch up (fat chance). Still it was a very nice morning to visit such delights as Frisby On The Wreake!
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!
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!
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!
I just checked and the first From The Earth Wealth canvas was completed back in 2011.