I am working on canvas with a rich shellac based Indian ink. The canvas is prepared with a ground coating, which is a plaster-like surface of marble dust medium. This accepts the stain of the ink more readily than the cotton weave itself would (I use a buff canvas colour which generates a warmth in the black ink): making these drawings feels akin to the art of fresco painting: I tend not to overwork them but if I do need to make alterations, I “re-plaster” the paint on with a skin of the ground colour and then I can redraw the adjusted passage back on top - staining the new ink back in - similar to the modus operandi of a fresco.Read More
I am intrigued by the possibilities for complexity in a painting - not through indeterminacy but through specificity: a painting that grabs you from quite a distance; its character revealed in an essential way. The work’s character continues to enrich this experience as you near it; only now the subtleties of colour relationship takes over; finally the surface nuance reveals itself.Read More
At the same time as so many younger artists were working out of cubism, some of the great artists of the late nineteenth century were either entering their old age or nearing the end of their lives: it must have been an intriguing artistic landscape to be alive in. These were the last years of Edgar Degas: a difficult character, by all accounts,Read More
…The name Cézanne immediately conjures up images of choppy interwoven brushstrokes. At first glance, his mature paintings have the appearance of a distinctively systematic approach – every painting just screams “Cézanne”, but to generalise about his painting in this way is a misreading, as throughout his work we find a remarkable breadth of enquiry.Read More
…In short, don’t go looking for pictorial illusions, but deal with the space you have available to you and maximise that. Let the space develop accordingly – illusions will occur with colour and do not need the added choreography behind them.Read More
…Figurative space is indeterminate because of its duality. That duality is its virtue. Take a good painting of a landscape for example and that painting does not rely on its physical size to deliver its content as much as its illusory relationship, through rendering, suggestion or even evocation, to a known – external – reality.Read More
…..During the same year that Picasso was mooching about Montmartre, Matisse was down in Collioure, towards the Spanish border, painting some of his greatest – soon to be known as – Fauvist works. His Landscape at Collioure (1905), a study for the seminal Bonheur de Vivre, is a work that I have prized all my adult life – so much so that in my twenties I made a special journey to Copenhagen to see it.Read More
Bonnard’s “The Studio with Mimosa” 1939 at The Pompidou, Paris is an intriguing painting - a slow meditation on colour and space. I have become increasingly fascinated with Bonnard's work of late (partly due to a course on colour in painting I am running at the RA with guest lecturer Nicholas Watkins). I was previously unsure about his colour which at times looks laboured or even sour in patches; in so many paintings though, he quite wilfully moves your eyes about, as things quietly emerge into focus: heads; fruit; cups; chairs, all seem to materialise covertly without you noticing it. Bonnard seems to create "peripheries" which exist ironically, right in front of you,Read More
These 8 images show the development of a recent painting. There were a number of colour decisions, not photographed here, made in between several of the stages but the general development of colour and line in the painting can be seen. This work had a particular "temperature" that was emerging and I kept working, painting it out and in to fine tune that temperature. The final painting (number 8) is called "The Squeeze" 2018 acrylic on canvas and is 130cm x 80cm wide.
Movement is different in sculpture and painting. By movement I do not mean capturing something in movement or even moving things around as in a kinetic sculpture. Movement starts firstly as the harnessing of actions made in a “fluid decision space”, where things can change and adjust as they take shape. Secondly it is about our eyes’ responses to differences. We have evolved as a species to scan a distant horizon and they swoop our gaze to a scrutinise something held in our handsRead More
I have recently had a book published on my work. It is part discursive, instructive, theoretical and reflective. It covers paintings from my student days up to the present. Some of the content that been written after experiences gained through teaching my classes at the Royal Academy. The book is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon and other online retailers. Please see the link on the announcement bar at the top of the website to the Amazon listing.
I was delighted this year to have my website archived by the National Library of Wales as a site of historical importance to the culture of Wales.
I have just stretched up my most recent paintings. 9 new works which were started in the early Spring. 3 of them: "This Way Up", "Jump" and "Tick Tock" all feature in my book on "Abstract Art and Abstraction: They have a new attention to line with a number of looping linear passages working their way through the painting, enclosing or opening up around and about passages of colour. - sometimes locking in colour "chords".Read More
(Blog app testing) Rock and roll looks to be the music of relationships; jazz feels like a music of community - it feeds off an audience and classical music is the music of solitude. Similarly painting operates in these ways in people’s lives.
At a recent Brancaster Chronicle whilst Tony Smart, it occurred to me that the language used to describe the work often ran into conflicts. Smart's work is radical and exciting and is part of an unfolding of work which could be categorised as "Open Sculpture". Below are some thoughts on the language used or touched upon in a Chronicle such as this and the respective possible meanings of certain words. Please comment if you wish. (the Chronicle will be posted on the branchron.com site shortly)Read More
I enjoyed the first Group show of The Brancaster Chronicles that I have exhibited in (being unable to participate in the initial one). It is on show at the moment in the Heritage Gallery in Greenwich’s Naval College buildings. Stunning Wren symmetry and grandeur. A great location on the river. The show features 1 work from 9 artists who had a Chronicle last year.Read More
I do not identify drawing in terms of delineation or as a vehicle for tone, rather I see it in much broader way as the 'mechanics of making.' I am an abstract painter and handling colour through painting requires organisation, strategy and that old chestnut, persistence. These qualities are, to my mind, determined holistically by drawing. Getting the drawing up to speed establishes how successful the painting will be - how well made it will be. Colour is the seeing - drawing is the making. I will often draw after making a painting to look at the lateral forces at play and explore further possibilities. Taking these forces back into paint compels me to be confident and this in turn dictates my sense of scale. Everything comes from the drawing.
The crux of making art lies in the attitude to spontaneity and having a skill set to tackle problems as they arise. Problems that arise when things are being made – the friction of creativity.Read More
Decorative as in not having a specific descriptive function which obeys acquired rules of construction (“compare European sculptures based upon the ‘muscle’ with African ones based upon the medium” Matisse paraphrased) Did Picasso ever escape this approach or rather moved to the extreme end of the same axis…? , not decorative as in not just a ‘streamlined’ arrangement of colour and pattern (Louis Valtat a minor example, though if you want to start a sword fight with anyone – compare with Derain?)- this is the notion of colours just existing in their own right with no “pressure” (witness recent discussions on Abcrit) , decorative as in a full synthesis of perceived – real, fluid- space translated into painted space -(absorbing and extending the lesson of Cézanne and NOT coming up with cubism which took his vernacular and returned it to point 1 – see above), not decorative as in a systematic synthetic formatting (which is where twentieth century modernism went). I think it’s such a complex word to explore and may well continue to be redefined. Matisse saw colour as a “force” and used colours which “collide” into one another, however his painting journey to get to the late 40s (for it was a wilfully investigative one) was delightfully meandering and lit up so many intriguing side roads (for so many others to wander down).
Although Cézanne’s approach was to synthesise what he saw, he maintained the nineteenth century instinct to depict. I think his level of synthesis is what transcended his depiction and made him essential for the twentieth century and why it still resonates so deeply today in the twenty first (not for some…perhaps). The issue of synthesis needs a new focus maybe; the relationship between what is seen and what is made does not pivot on depiction. It is far more symbiotic than that (not for some…perhaps). A writer wants a narrative. You cannot escape this; it is this desire that has fuelled the rise of curation. Curation is rooted in the literal. At its best it can be enlightening but it is never ‘essential’. If a painting has gone through the necessary heat of synthesis, it should come out fully cooked – any trace of the mix means it’s not done yet. A post modern lens will always pardon the lack of this ‘essential’ as a quality as the oven is never on anyway so everything gets served cold.
...It’s funny how bravado dissipates to chic melancholy with the passing of time. It could have been the fact it was a lovely mild December evening, the hour was late and the gallery sparse, for I actually quite enjoyed wandering around the show and just let it wash over me...Read More