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…

Truckin’ On

Sweet Bemister
Sweet Be’mi’ster, Acrylic on paper, 150 x 50 cm.

Nowadays it seems to be one thing after another…with activity that follows hard on activity.  Of course it’s nothing of the sort really, just the onset of age gives the appearance of time rushing by.  And things that I used to have to do ‘on the hoof’ I can now take time over…  So it is with the painting, I give even more time over to sitting and pondering than I did when younger, though I could lose hours to cogitation even back then.  Following on from the completion of Rock Of Ages, the third and final grouping of the Landscape & Memory project, I’m still drawn to one aspect of that endeavour, viz. the inclusion, or rather the wraparound, of text on paintings.

Petrarch reads augustine
Petrarch Reads Augustine, Mixed media on paper, 106 x 94 cm.

In other news the show I’m curating at Deda this autumn is rapidly approaching, much of the work for it is waiting patiently in my studio for delivery this coming weekend.  The view is on Wednesday 11th September because before then we’re off to Venice for a few days to take in the Biennale though I’m imagining spending quite a bit of time in the Gorky, Frankenthaler, Scully shows about town too.

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And finally I have a small painting, Cape Poem 3, in the upcoming East Midlands auction that is on show at the Djanogly Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre from the 6th September.

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Thirty days on…

The Mount Of Sands
The Mount Of Sands

from my last post…goodness knows why really.  It does get harder to have much to say other than that ‘events’ sometimes get in the way of the activity of both making and commentating on work.  And does that matter much?  As I get older I’m realising that productivity isn’t the only criterion – though its one I do put some store in.  Hence my desire to see the completion of the Rock Of Ages, the third and final part of the Landscape & Memory trilogy.  So here is the last but two of the eighteen that make up this group.

Finding a Black Box…

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No. 1

When a plane goes down, mercifully rarely, the first thing that happens is a search for the Black Box.  Hopefully it tells investigators what happened, and how.  So this group of little sketches, doodles, scribbles, or whatever is part of the record of the larger, more carefully considered and constructed works. The Black Box sits somewhere between the Wonky Geometry series and three even smaller boxes of even more provisional pieces.

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No. 2

I enjoy these a lot.  First it helps avoid waste – I can’t abide waste – by using papers from projects that failed and using up paint that would otherwise be discarded (not into the watercourse though!).  Alongside that it’s an activity that can carry on alongside the reflection, the mulling over, of what to do next on the more substantive works. No time now for idle hands. And finally there’s the freedom to play around – to not be too serious.

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No. 3

As yet I’ve no idea how many will be made, as with the Wonky Geo‘s these come off a large pile of sheets cut to the size in a rotation as my fancy takes me and are numbered on what I consider completion.