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.
I have been looking through some old hard drives and came across a set of images from a visit to Hong Kong. This was taken in 2006 with a Canon 40D and 50mm f1.8 lens. Hong Kong is a very exciting city and nothing short of paradise for a street photographer. I’ll keep checking through the various files and folders and see what else I have in storage.
The late afternoon sun transforms an ordinary scene. Windows and doorways become dark rectangular shapes and intense sunlight reflects from plaster walls. In these images of geometry and order I see echoes of the surrealist Magritte, the mysterious city streets of the Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico and the cool detachment of the American painter, Joseph Albers.
For those of you also interested in the technical aspects of photography this image was taken on a Fuji X100s using the excellent Fuji Acros film simulation setting.
Please feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas.
River City is a mixed media acrylic painting on a canvas frame. It belongs to a series of paintings loosely based on the city of Cambridge. We can never really know a particular place or location, not in a purely visual sense, not even through the so called objectivity objectivity of the camera lens. There are so many different ways of seeing, understanding and interpreting; our view of the world is a subjective, personal experience. It changes as we change. The Cubists new a thing or two about perception.
I developed this painting through an exchange of ideas, thoughts and materials, you could call it a dialogue. What you see here is the result of many ‘conversations’, a constant give and take between what I think I have to say as a painter and what the painting says to me. A painting will invariably contradict me and tell me I am mistaken, on the wrong track. Sometimes, I delude myself into thinking I am in charge but I know my place; ‘painting’ is a collaboration, a combined effort, an ongoing debate. What you see here is a partnership between planning and accident, conceit and humility, confidence and deflation, wisdom and foolishness, seeing and not seeing.
If you are visiting Ely in Cambridgeshire do come along to the Old Fire Engine House to see an exhibition of recent paintings by myself, Paul Janssens and Caroline Foward. The exhibition is called EXPLORE and the preview night is on the 3rd October, 6 – 8pm. We would love to see you there.
Saint Bartholomew (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13) never set foot in Milan but his statue has been the talk of the town for the past four and a half centuries. Just ask Mark Twain. Then again, the tradition of Bartholomew, which purports that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albanopolis, Armenia (modern-day Turkey), is the stuff of legends. Bartholomew, now the patron saint of tanners, is usually depicted with a large knife and holding his own skin.
In many ways this image reveals the power of compact modern digital cameras to capture detail. When I took this shot of the famous statue of St Bartholomew in the Milan Duomo I was aware of the father and daughter figures to the right of the frame. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of their body language until I edited the image later.
I stumbled across this ready-made Christo in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge. I think they would be delighted.
‘When Christo began to wrap objects in 1958, he used everyday objects such as shoes, telephones and empty paint cans to make his sculptures. Once wrapped, the objects would take on a new identity. By wrapping them, he would reveal some of the most basic features and proportions of the object by concealing the actual item. Christo and Jeanne-Claude later expanded this idea in projects such as The Pont Neuf Wrapped and the Wrapped Reichstag, but on a much larger scale. While the intricate details of the structures are hidden, the essence of the structures are revealed all the while making the imposing and solid structure seem airy and nomadic’.
‘The use of real fabric also gives the work a fragile, sensual and temporary character while wrapping objects is definitely an important part of their œuvre, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have done very few wrappings in comparison to their whole portfolio of artworks. It is easier for some to grasp the wrapping concept and refer to their artworks entirely as “wrapping,” but the work is more about altering an environment than wrapping – which is only one way to do that. The last time the artists had an idea for a wrapping was in 1975, when they had the idea of wrapping the Pont-Neuf in Paris, ten years before they realized the work of art.’