La La La…

Well time to stick our fingers in our ears…and hope the news (wherever its coming from it seems) goes away… I’m picking out pieces from projects that really need pushing on…like Playground Of The Midlands…  So I give you South Croxton.

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Doubt anyone out there will recognise it..though the last time I said that (about Quorn I recall) someone knew exactly where I picked up the imagery.  So you never know.  I wonder how many remainers there were out in South Croxton – you would likely only need one hand!

Year End…

I Give You The Morning
I Give You The Morning, Oil on linen, 15 x 15 cm., Nov. 2018

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. 

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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!

Lack of recognition..

Newton Linford
Newton Linford, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm., May 2018

Lack of Recognition…not of myself (though nobody would turn down more!) but of the location of the latest of the Playground Of The Midlands group of works.  After all not even the most observant of the denizens of the village of Newton Linford would recognise it from the painting I’ve made.  Its a pity really as this one has been a bit of a blighter.  Not helped by the inordinate delay in tackling it (and the rest of them that have been languishing in the studio for yonks.  Still I’m redoubling my efforts, as with several other series, to get them resolved rather than moving onto fresh work!

Quorn
Quorn, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm., May 2018

Conundrums

IMG_1069.JPGI’m wondering exactly what may be the unintended consequences of working from my mashups of the photos I take in preparation for my series Playground of the Midlands.  Perhaps it should have occurred to me a lot earlier.  After all I started playing around with photographic source imagery back in the 1990’s!  But in all honesty I’d not really thought it through much until earlier in the week.  Stepping back from one of the canvases the choices of elements were shockingly clear – yes – you could see what it was! Usually my mashing up, or colour choices  or plain cackhandedness takes care of any original referent.

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One of my many painting heroes is Thomas Nozkowski. I like his clearheaded and unfussy approach to the business of making a picture and the plain commonsense  of much he says about it.  He is rightly admired for his certainty that everything he does is grounded in real world experience.  You get a really honest insight into his process from these  videos made by his son – here’s the other – where he expands on the idea of how the work evolves. I guess one of my reasons for liking his work is my similar idea of how to construct a picture.  In a 2015 catalogue he talks of  his work becoming “more open ended. That’s to say initially I prided myself on sticking close to my original source material…but I’m much more interested in all the evocations and echoes and implications…so instead of a tight little knot, I think it’s now something that’s a bit more open for interpretation”.   I’m wondering whether or not I may allow some movement in the other direction – or should I – as Thomas suggests – work harder at the taking out rather than the letting in?

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So that’s one conundrum going around my head (where a gummed up ear is making it a rather lonely and frustrating place right now).  Another that’s been bugging me for a while is the point of all this anyway.  I mean doing what I’m doing right now…’social media’ that as David Byrne recently suggested may actually do as much harm as good.  After all if there’s a point to painting it has to be in substantial part the engagement with the actual object.  It’s not lost on me that both the bodies of work I’m particularly focused on right now have no obvious outlets in the real world – and that is equally frustrating too.  Maybe the memo to self is to start searching for opportunities to get the work out there…though after I have resolved it all!

Chain of information…

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I’m putting up six of the Playground of the Midlands canvases here…only one of which I think is quite finished (though I think two others are pretty close) because its supposed to be a painting blog.  Though I don’t feel so good today so I’m doing a lot of displacement activity instead.  I doubt I’m the only painter who does that.  Part of the avoidance has been some clearing of shelves – I’m an inveterate hoarder so have way too much ‘stuff’ – and I came across a copy of Flash Art from Summer 1999.  That led me to wondering what had happened of late to that Flash Art favourite of the 90’s – Mark Kostabi.  Was Kostabi World still in action?

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Paesaggio Altro  Giulio Turcato  1990 Oil & Mixed Media on Canvas, 195 x 295 cm.

So to that marvellous invention for all us avoidance merchants – this Internet thingy!  It appears Mark is now mainly to be found on Facebook…and that (unbeknownst to me) he did for quite a few years write a magazine column.  And in the spirit of my online flaneur I came across his review of Italian painter Giulio Turcato – also previously unknown to me (and without being immodest many pals will tell you that’s quite rare…).  But I’m now loving his work…so not entirely an afternoon wasted…

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Giardino di Miciurin Guilio Turcato  Oil on Canvas 113 x 145 cm.1953

And with him having to chosen Rome to live in for part of his time alongside his articles and cable tv show Mark has gone up a little in my estimation of him!

Things Have Changed..

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Thurcaston – Playground Of The Midlands, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm.  2017

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

So his Royal Bobness fetched up in Nottingham for the first time (I think) since 1966…opening up his set with these particularly pertinent lyrics – at least for yours truly. Maybe (mostly) its a consequence of my age but they seem to sum up our ridiculous and crazy world. How we can be sleep walking towards totalitarianism across the western world I really don’t know – just shows how seventy plus years of stability makes people (or rather a lot of them) complacent I guess. We can only hope that once things start getting seriously askew they may wake up.

And Bob has also changed everything, not least the tempo, tone and even the melodies of some of his best known songs alongside those many more recent and less well known ditties (a solid bunch off the Tempest album). But it was a decent show, house lights down on the dot of eight pm. and an hour and forty minutes of non-stop boogie, hard rock and some alarming crooning! But Bob always goes his own way and as one of these standards said ‘Why Try To Change Me Now’? So I kind of appreciate this bobbing and weaving to keep the audiences guessing.

I’m flitting between bodies of work in my painting too. As is by now well known to any followers of these ramblings I don’t do a ‘signature’ style but address each set of pictures in whatever manner seems to me to suit the occasion. Its especially messy right now. In one corner sits the canvas pieces for the Lavanderia series, in another the lumps and bumps of my Paintings Standing Up. Over on one wall another in the extending series of Very Like Jazz whilst right here is another of the twenty five or so small oils in the Charnwood series Playground Of The Midlands. Up on the balcony are the Water paintings (the second part of the Wood, Water & Rock pictures that take their cue from Schama’s Landscape & Memory). And somewhere at the back a small panel collection provisionally titled The Rigged Deck. Of course there’s also the painting of maps, the Wonky Geometries and the RagBags that just chug along forever. So who am I to call the world crazy!

Dither…

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I started the new year (it already seems a lifetime ago) with a plan.  Yesterday I took a look and thought it was going west fast.  It is dither that does for me…take a look at the Very Like Jazz new panels for example.  I’m pretty sure at least half of them are fairly close but I’m dithering over them, fiddling about with the grounds and then taking out a shape here or altering its colour there. So with February being the deadline for four then I need to make some decisions.  But (and its a big one) the ‘plan’ also suggests that by the end of the month I’ll have two Water paintings finished, two Paintings Standing Up resolved, and five Playground Of The Midlands pictures completed.  And that doesn’t include the work that continues on the maps and a couple other things knocking around the studio that haven’t even got to a base camp yet!  I know I could just try working on one thing at a time but that just isn’t my way of rolling…

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So this morning I thought I’d try and get a grip…or at least a foothold.  So back to the Water pictures then – and (I suspect partly as a result of no alcohol and a fairly decent nights sleep) glory be at least two of this series finished.

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These are of course the follow on from Waldgeschichten, the series of eighteen panels that drew upon the Wood section of Simon Schama’s Landscape & Memory.  So that’s all good then…just sixteen more of these to go.  Now what about the Playground of The Midlands series?