Have you noticed something with all the commentators and interviewees on the telly during this awful ‘lockdown’? It struck me a few days back that nearly all these middle class people (and generally all those featured ‘at home’ are so) have virtually no original art on their walls. In fact most seem to have some spectacularly awful stuff hanging in their homes. It reminded me of something a Scandinavian gallerist said to me forty or so years back that whilst his clients in Sweden would spend a lot on a painting and little on the sofa in front of it, the British, he opined, went the other way (mind I guess Ikea was mostly operating at home back then?!) and so he was glad to be over there and not here and suggested I joined him if I wanted success as a painter…
And in turn I recall a British artist (I think it might have been Scully or Hodgkin) once saying that we were a literary nation not a visual one…and hence the remark about the Bard. No matter…keep yer eyes peeled on the walls behind whichever ‘expert’ or interviewer pops up on screen – you’ll see what I mean!
Like quite a few other painters I know this ‘self isolation’ is just studio time by other means but I’m also glad that (for those of us hereabouts) the weather has been kind in these first few days (see above). But I’m also very aware of the massive debt we owe to all those keeping the world going and to those much less fortunate in their accommodation arrangements (or worse still without any). Making work keeps one sane methinks – and I am so grateful to be able to do it.
I imagine that for the ‘strivers’ this is around the time that New Year resolutions start to get irksome. They would for me if I were the sort to pose myself tough ambitions of that kind. As it is I’m simply resolved to get some things ‘resolved’ this year. So no new projects, no purchases of fresh timber, new canvas or paints and – especially – no new ‘ideas’! Of course what I call ‘ideas’ is a rather grand term for what are just notions that mostly go out the window I start working on them.
So instead I’ve made an inventory of all the various half baked things on the go at the moment. I say inventory but really I’ve just had a mooch about the studio and dragged out everything that’s sitting there. And set about deciding what might be potentially be ‘resolved’, whether that’s a bit of ‘tickling up’, more radical surgery or being put out of its misery. It includes the growing mountain of paper works, offcuts of full sheets, each boxed up at various sizes, of which the biggest is the Wonky Geometry series at 27 x 27 cm. This constitutes 112 pieces to date, the last six of which are shown above, the result of a few days of ‘resolution’.
‘schedule’ – don’t make me laugh…it’s hardly that. Nonetheless I dug out this series (still another 100 or so in the work pile) a few days back and chose a few I felt were nearing a kind of conclusion if not a proper resolution. And now I’ve done four more to take it to a hundred – a sort of milestone I guess – and all well ahead of the festive season so hence the ‘schedule’ notion albeit only in my head.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Numbers 57 through 64…been a decent couple of weeks for completions…aiming to finish up a few more to fill out Box Two. Mind that will need me to pick up the resolution rate as I need to get through to ninety! Had been hoping to have two filled by the end of the year…looking a tad ambitious now though you never know?