back at work…though I’m still not entirely well but good enough to give some attention to the various bodies of work I have on the go at present. I’ve written before of how I’m pathologically incapable of focussing on one thing at a time. And so I just looked back through these pages to see when I last mentioned the Water series. These are following on from the Waldgeschitchen series and will comprise the second group of three such works that will make up my musings on Simon Schama’s Landscape & Memory. It was way back in February – so at this rate of progress this project may outlast its creator! Still over the past few hours I’ve completed the sixth of this second group of eighteen.
So I’m trying to ‘put in the hours’ as one of my colleagues used to say to me when I was pressing him about spending more time teaching rather than making – and he was right there really is no substitute for being in the space and getting on with it if you want good outcomes.
It always intrigues me as to how others go about the disciplining of their practice, after all you read often about how, for example, Henry Moore, had a very defined studio routine and how legendary is the amount of time, say, Frank Auerbach spends in his room and it’s easy to see with some artists output that they must have been very focussed and hard working. Then again we all know those who do rather little but it goes a very long way indeed…
I’ve written before on the subject of listening to music whilst working and today I’ve spent pretty much the whole day in the studio. Usually it’s instrumental music only (I find it difficult to concentrate with lyrics) but sometimes the process is just laborious. Like here where I’m colouring in forms ahead of the later stages. And given my location the most appropriate rock music seemed to be about the only post millennial UK rock band I’ve much time for (most of them seem like second rate retreads of the 70’s – must be my age I guess). I’m talking of British Sea Power whose work – especially the longer work outs like those on Man of Aran or True Adventures from Open Season or Once More Now from Valhalla Dancehall I like a lot.
Then again the second and third stages of this piece were a lot less satisfactory (as above!). I think I can still rescue it but it’s hard when you’ve put in such effort but that’s often the way with painting so maybe it was a day well spent. In any event the music’s been a treat – and if you know their work (and the location I’m in – see previous posts) so appropriate to the context.
It’s hard to believe that this blog (set up two summers back, on return from Gotland, Sweden) has now reached 200 postings…so many words and a good deal of images have entered the digital sphere, signifying what I’ve really no idea! Today for example I’m musing on the organisational and arrangements side of being an artist. To outsiders I imagine it seems both quite exciting and exotic on the one hand and (probably) all rather easy (or at the least relaxed) on the other. Today is a kind of antidote to all that. First off I have to complete packing of the fotografische werk exhibition and make arrangements for freighting it to Porto. I need to chase up Friday’s session at BG (as I’ve become impromptu Module Leader) and get my text off to Lakeside. Thats things that have to be done, there are plenty of others I could be doing!. But then its off to the studio…not to contemplate the work in progress at leisure…but rather to photograph, pack and store the Lakeside show (ready for delivery in a couple weeks time) and finish painting the floor ahead of the Open Studios event this Saturday. I’m not complaining – I love doing all this stuff and sometimes the basic chores are actually amongst the best things to do. But it isn’t quite the image that I imagine a lot of people have of the ‘life of the artist’.
Some things tickle me – I mailed a contributor to ‘Painting Too’ (the show that follows ‘The Discipline Of Painting’) and suggested that the ‘idea’ behind the show was to show work more informal, looser in conception etc. as a counterpoint…and he replied that he had no problem with indisciplined work! Of course that wasn’t what I meant exactly…but it amused me. And reminded me of a time (many years back) when I chaired a national student art competition. A leading UK art critic reviewed our exhibition and said “It was sharp, critical and tightly organised, perhaps too much so” – I felt compelled to write a riposte…”did you want it fuzzy, uncritical and badly organised, because any bloody fool could do that!”.
What has the image above to do with any of this? Very little really though transport arrangements seem to chime with a picture entitled ‘The Turnaround’ and its also my contribution to ‘Painting Too’ in the ‘control group’.
And now that ‘The Discipline of Painting’ is underway…it’s already time to start thinking about, and organising the arrangements for, ‘Painting Too’…the follow on exhibition that will look at more abstraction that, to put it rather indelicately, is a whole lot messier than the first! Of course I am being rather cheeky in saying this as all the artists in this second look at abstraction are just as pernickety about their pictures as those that precede them. It’s rather that, instead of a lot of planning and thinking through in advance of making in this show it is more reaction and response that is the hallmark of the works on display. However one of those exhibiting was right on the money perhaps because he was coming to the show from so far away. Stephen B. MacInnis will, I am sure, be pretty well known to most readers of this blog. His extraordinary commitment to the ‘Long Series’ and the amazing originality and continuing invention of it is – I am sure – fairly unique in the current field of abstraction. I am absolutely delighted to have a sequence of images from it in ‘Painting Too’
and reviewing what you (think) you are up to is always a worthwhile activity for me. I pulled out of the plan-chest these black and white pastels that have been going on for over a year now today not least as actually making something is quite tough without the opposing thumb. This was damaged on a screw yesterday whilst hanging ‘The Discipline of Painting’ show and is still quite tender today. I’m pretty sure it will have hardened off a little by tomorrow as it really is what separates us from the rest of the species… So today is just looking and pondering – will I make the larger paintings I have been thinking might result from these pastels – or not. Only time and a little more pondering will tell.
I bid for this lovely small painting by Luke Frost (“Light Sap and Deep Green Chromavolts Study”, acrylic on paper, 17.5 x 10 cm) at the ‘This Way Up’ silent auction to raise funds for Falmouth degree students show in Shoreditch later this year and got it! It will be on show in ‘The Discipline of Painting’ show later this year with one or two other surprises…
I really love Luke’s pictures…although steeped in the St. Ives tradition (family connection, working in Heron’s old studio etc.) he owes more to the absorption of minimal painting out of Barney Newman as an example to which he’s added his own personal sensibility. And now I own one albeit a rather modest piece!