Don’t be smug!


Ah…yesterday…and now today.  It doesn’t pay to be clever does it.  Bragging about the weather has seen a day of squally rain, some of it quite heavy.  We have managed to get out twice for reasonable strolls without getting wet but a goodly part of the day has us confined to the studio.  Some decent progress made but in order to cheer us on a grey day I’ve pinned a few studies I made back on Cape Cornwall a few years back that put some strong Cornish colour on the wall.  Oddly enough we were there on the first of November with a temperature (and sun to match) of seventy degrees c.  And ‘the donald’ says global warming doesn’t exist!



Place (for Denis), c. 53 mm sq. September 2014

Following on from a brief conversation at the opening of Lisa Denyer‘s lovely selection of painters – ‘About Painting’ where she had kindly selected my small 10 cm. linen square canvases (the Cornish Coast series) I got to thinking a fair bit about size.  Alongside these small paintings I’ve been working on some fairly large canvases (by current standards though not so much if you think back a few years) around the 2 metre twenty height.  I recalled Barney Newman‘s remarks about really big paintings being quite intimate (and certainly his in the small Betty Parsons space in 1950 and 51 must have been) and thought that if going up was a way of inducing more intimacy then going even smaller might also do the same.  But 10 by 10 cm. already seemed a bit cheeky as regards an object that we suggest is imbued with characteristics that might interest a viewer…so could I really entertain smaller still?  Fate intervened in the form of a plastic bag of offcuts of MDF that my wife retrieved from the woodwork shop, all around the size of 52/4 mm square(ish!).  So I’ve played around with these for quite a few weeks now…using them in places neat as it were and in other parts with a good solid dose of hard sand-able gesso.

Place (for Rachael), c. 52 mm. sq. September 2014

And I quite like them I think.  Ok they are very slight in some ways but hopefully quite atmospheric and jewel like in others.  And the beauty of it is you don’t feel too precious about them!  So much so that yesterday in the course of my perambulations around my dear friend Denis O’Connor‘s exhibition Defining A Line at Derby Museum I finally hit on the means to title these odd little informal ‘things’. I’d toyed with islands as a generic title but it suddenly struck me that they are…as pretty much everything I’ve ever done really, curious little evocations of place…one place or another, one time or another.  And furthermore because it’s only my creative thinking that has been significantly invested in them (as they are cheap and relatively simple and quick to execute) I could be quite free in letting them go.  So the Place paintings will be dispersed to anyone with whom I have a ‘significant’ artistic encounter going forward. As a small (actually really small!) token of appreciation. So these first three are going out to people that have occasioned such an ‘encounter’ recently…(though one of these is yet to take place).

Place (for Matthew), c. 53 mm sq. September 2014