Night Forest

painting forest
Night Forest

This painting is from my New Forest series and the materials used include oil paint, cold wax medium and a solid block of oak. The oak block is 20 x 20 x 5cm. I have worked on cradled boards many times and have found that the harder surface encourages a more aggressive approach to mark making. The weight and density of the oak block takes this strategy a stage further and allows you to exploit the resistance and grain of the wood. That my subject matter is trees and I am working directly on the ‘machined’ surface of a tree only enhances the poetry and mystery of this activity we call painting.

Night Forest Painting
Night Forest (Detail)
Night Forest Painting
Night Forest (Detail)

Swiimming at Gyles’Quay

Swimming off the beach just beyond Gyles’ Quay is no longer considered safe. The truth is, it never was safe. The moment you enter the water from what appears to be a gentle gradient, the shore drops off steeply into open sea and powerful undercurrents hold sway. When we were kids we sometimes swam here, with no understanding or even awareness of the danger. Unbelievable, I wouldn’t even dip my toe in today……..the wisdom of age.

Gyles’ Quay is an isolated stretch of beach located 1 km south of the R173/R175 road in County Louth, Ireland. It was named after Ross Gyles who built a wood structure there in 1780. It was later rebuilt in stone in 1824 and survives to this day.

Abandoned house on the road to Gyles’ Quay

I just can’t resist the aesthetic of abandoned buildings. Yes, I know it’s a photographic cliche but there was something about this particular building that caught my attention. This was a house that had surrendered to the inevitable, engulfed by weeds and brambles and sinking beneath a tidal wave of vegetation, yet somehow it remained stoic and dignified. A personification of managed decline and acceptance in stone and slate.

For the photographers amongst you, I agree, I should have used a graduated filter or at least bracketed the exposure for the sky. On the plus side, the bleached out sky emphasises the symmetry and shape of the house.

Gyles’ Quay is an isolated stretch of beach located 1 km south of the R173/R175 road on the Cooley Peninsula in the north of County Louth in Ireland. It was named after Ross Gyles who built a wood structure there in 1780. It was later rebuilt in stone in 1824 and survives to this day.

Look Before you Leap

‘Look Before You Leap’
By Order of
Galway City Council

Swimming in the open sea is an Irish tradition and they clearly relish this encounter with the primal element. On a windswept coast in Galway, precariously balanced on top of a diving platform, I found myself taking photographs. Apparently, people of all ages fearlessly jump off here into the waves far below. I spoke to a very friendly local man in his 40’s who told me that only two years ago he had broken ‘his fecking neck’ jumping off the platform. He seemed to have made a full recovery from the accident. Indeed, this was clearly a significant achievement in his life and a moment of considerable personal pride. I could only agree, mission accomplished… I was ‘fecking’ impressed.

New Forest Painting (revisited)

I’m currently working on this painting… have been for quite a while now. It has gone through a series of changes and modifications, but that is just the way it always goes. The close up shots of the surface should give you an idea of the heavy impasto of the cold wax, the incisions and layering.

I increasingly find that a painting only really begins to ‘work’ after I have been through a stage of irrational confidence, followed by more rational misgivings and doubts to the final point of total despair. The point at which I lose all faith in the endeavour is the moment of maximum freedom, clarity and opportunity. That’s when I am liberated from my preconceptions and the false notions of correctness and quality…then I can begin to kick start the recovery.  I repeat this ritual all the time….you would think that I would learn…but I can’t and I don’t.

The Locker Cafe Exhibition

The Locker Cafe
Abstract Paintings 100 x 100 cm
Abstract Paintings 80 x 80 cm
Abstract Painting 100 x 100 cm

These photographs were taken yesterday at The Locker Cafe in Cambridge. The exhibition of paintings and photography runs from 19th July – 19th August. If you are in town do come along and take a look. The Locker art cafe is located at 54 King Street, just opposite Tindalls art supplies.

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Exhibition at The Locker Cafe in Cambridge

Just completed setting up the exhibition last night at the Locker Cafe. Many thanks to John, the owner of the Locker art cafe for his assistance with the hanging process. I will visit the cafe over the coming weekend when it is busy and full of customers… Maybe take a video to give you an idea of the overall layout and lively atmosphere. Don’t forget, if you are in town, take a break from your shopping, have a coffee, a bite to eat…enjoy the artwork.

Exhibition in Cambridge

The Locker Cafe

18th July – 18th August 2109

Opening Times:

Mon – Fri 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, Sat 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, Sun 10am – 4:00pm

If you are in Cambridge between 18th July and 18th August come along to the Locker Cafe, just opposite Tindalls art shop at 54 Kings Street. I will be displaying a range of paintings and photography from the last couple of years so there should be something of interest for everyone. The Locker cafe is a lively ‘arts’ based cafe founded by father and son team John and Adam Hodges in 2017. The paintings are primarily large scale abstract pieces in a variety of media including acrylic, bitumen, cold wax and oil paint. The monochrome photographs are based on the Fenland landscape.

Roswell Pit

Acrylic Landscape Painting

This painting is based on the artificial lake called ‘Roswell Pit’ which is located on the edge of the City of Ely in Cambridgeshire. The work is something of a departure for me as I have used acrylic paint and a glazing medium and not oil paints and cold wax. To achieve luminosity and translucency I have applied multiple layers and short strokes of colour with a hatching technique. It is perhaps difficult to categorise the painting style but I see elements of Magritte and Surrealism, Monet and Impressionism and possibly aspects of colour field painting in the relative flatness of the picture plane.

UnderWood

‘UnderWood’ Oil on Canvas 100 x 100 x 4cm
gold abstract painting
100 x 100 cm
oil painting on canvas

This is a multi layered mixed media oil painting on a high quality canvas frame. This painting represents a development of my New Forest series and continues my engagement with nature and land. The surface consists of multiple layers of oil and cold wax, with a marked impasto and pronounced textural qualities.

The gold paint has a soft patina and mirrors elements of the colour and tones of the immediate environment. Gold leaf has been applied selectively to some of the vertical forms and provides intense points of a golden reflective light.

The abstract nature of the work reflects the process of growth, flowering and renewal. This painting is concerned with serenity and contemplation. The falling and rising arcs of paint are designed to be both hypnotic and calming.

Striation

abstract landscape painting
‘Striation’ Oil on Canvas 60 x 60 cm

This is an experimental painting on canvas using tar, oil paint and cold wax medium. Just recently, I have been trying to include more elements of drawing in my work, allowing the hand to make incisions without consciously controlling or dictating the final outcome. I guess I am attempting to eliminate myself from the process, to achieve a sense of originality and inevitability about the marks, undoubtedly a foolhardy enterprise. How can it be possible to draw without prior awareness of drawing? I recall the ‘blind drawing’ exercises we worked on in art classes; they often produced surprising and unexpected results. However, many of the students never quite grasped the purpose of these techniques and often felt they were creating interesting but more or less random ‘drawings’ lacking in observational skill.

How as an artist do you suppress and override all those aspects of knowledge surrounding line and form that we acquire over years of practice? The lyrical and poetic qualities of line become part of our skill set, our DNA, the sweep of the arm, the motion of the wrist; curves and contours, all the motor skills associated with looking and recording though drawing become ingrained and established.

I intend to explore and discuss this aspect of drawing further in the next few posts. I’ll be looking at the use of unconventional drawing implements and the significance of the material we choose to work with.

Detail from ‘Striation’