30 November 2023

Inviting disaster

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 25 October 2023, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

 Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 25 October 2023, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

These two studies are from a few weeks back. The weather has been uneven and though there have been evenings when I could have, or should have gone out, perhaps,... but I didn't, I guess because I'm becoming a little bit snooty vis-a-vis the weather conditions, maybe like the apartment dog that refuses to leave the comfort of home for a dog walk when raining, or Heavens! it's snowing and the streets are full of slush. Dogs are hip to to this when they see the husband or wife wrapped up in galoshes and a raincoat. 

I used to go out under almost any kind of sky, but these days, I seem to be patiently awaiting the luminous light like a snob, and as I've said before in these pages I've painted my fair share of grey seas to last me a lifetime. So non! No more sickly Northern skies or bland seas for me. 

But of course, this could all change, like if I were to begin working out in the landscape again, where a pale and dull-looking slate sky compliments the very best of the earthy shrub and will usually always accentuate the arid landscape or lush greenery.

In such earthly spots a painter can exploit a range of orange umbers and red sienna's that are born of the desert sand and ground into the mountains. 

But by the seaside it's the opposite, for these plum reds, yellow pears and lime greens yearn to shed their earthly pigments and want nothing more than to fly away from earth. These tints gravitate to towards the blue-violet spectrum of serenity. 

Like human souls, these colours yearn for celestial height as found in the heavenly blue of stained-glass windows at Chartres, for it's all about being cool.

I like these two pictures, but especially now after a few weeks have passed as I see they've not lost their 'life' for me. As I can say too often in these pages there is no point in creating any picture that, (unlike perishable foods), does not 'live' beyond its execution date. 

One recent thing I've changed is that I picked up some smaller brushes and this has shaken  things up for me in a good way. I felt that I needed to get back into a different way of building up an image. I've seen for some time now that I had become too reliant upon larger sweeping swarths of colour and I wanted to get back to a busier, more frenzied set of planes; more unrestrained frenzy actually. 

This might be because I've spent a lot of time looking at paintings from these earlier years when I began the series from around 2017 and 2018 (as I am indeed putting a book together from all this). 

Here is one from those years to better show what I'm trying to express. This kind of image may not appeal to the general public but hey,,, who cares?

     Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 22 March 2018, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

In this study from March, 2018, there is an almost 'messy' or 'scrappy' aspect to this image. It reveals an expressive struggle between the winning and losing of a picture, and as with any battle, a painter gains more when blood has been drawn. 

But there is something in this study that I want again in my work, this untidy darkness and messy uncertainty that appeals to the insouciance of my personality. I want to go back and re-explore this careless sensuality because I sense that I need a sea change, as it were, from too much smooth sailing. 

And of course, 'Mark-Making' has become a major sub-genre of Contemporary Art in itself, ever since Twombly then Basquiat, who both arrived on the Painting Scene one after the other, and created mayhem for many, but also changed the way the public looked at Art. 

For me, this Mark-Making school is certainly an extension of Abstract Expressionism, and though I do find it sexy and all, it's too temporal. But also, in front of a 'motif' at the beach it's also not a solution for my way of painting. 

For many artist today, 'Mark Making' as 'method' is a whole way of life in studios and schools around the world but for me, it's just a means-to-an-end, not the other way around, because after all, I'm still a figurative painter.  

One cannot change course so easily and my process is still a slow progression. My working system cruises along adroitly like an ocean liner whose course is somewhat set, yet re-configured for changes to the actual currents. 

In summary, this study from 2018, also possesses an adventurous spirit and beckons danger and accidents like at night when I'm crossing over the middle line of a road and inviting failure, disaster even.


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