Abstract landscape paintings

Christo and Jean Claude never explained, interpreted or gave meanings to their work; they didn’t need to. We will always obligingly do that for them. Writers and art critics have theorised about their ideas, conjuring a complex set of social, political, philosophical and psychological reasons why we should be interested in the art they produced. If I list many of the customary arguments here, you might consider them to be pretentious, meaningless drivel. And who knows, you may well be right. What I know is, I love the mystery and sense of wonder they created by using the unbelievably simple device of concealment, and for some reason it is far more effective if the object is relatively well known and familiar in terms of scale and shape.

Acrylic on Canvas 150 x 100 cm
Detail

This is a large acrylic work exploring the possibility of creating the illusion of movement in painting. I am always in two minds about using acrylic and I often find myself switching to oil paints after a period of time. (Please note, you can make the change if the oil paint layer is applied after the acrylic, not the other way around). To be accurate, you can break the rules and add acrylic to an oil base but the results can be unpredictable and tend to make the top layer unstable. The secret for me is not to judge a work completed in acrylics by the same criteria as a painting completed in oils. I have never been able to replicate the natural qualities of oil paint in acrylics and the use of acrylic mediums will only take you so far. However, they are fantastic for making bold statements in colour.

The influence of the Italian Futurists can be seen in this work and I’m currently building translucent layers with the addition of a slow drying agent and various glazing mediums. Speed and confident execution are key in maintaining freshness and immediacy on this scale. I have literally been dancing in front of the canvas in a style reminiscent of Irish stepdance, albeit with my feet anchored to the ground and my arms flailing like a whirling dervish. Let’s see how it develops…those white areas are definitely too strident at the moment.

Two Houses on Ten Mile Bank Fenlands

Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967  Diane Arbus

Don’t worry, I’m not claiming to have produced a masterpiece but I do see a connection between the two images. The power of Diane Arbus’s photograph rests on our understanding of individuality and identity. The twins were seven years old when Arbus spotted them at a Christmas party for twins and triplets. The twins’ father once said about the photo, “We thought it was the worst likeness of the twins we’d ever seen.”

The houses next to the River Great Ouse share a deadpan presentation and surface likeness, but they are not the same. The flat emptiness of the Fenland landscape behind the houses echoes the featureless white wall behind the twins who remain quietly animated by their differences.

100 x 150 cm Acrylic on Canvas
100 x 150 cm Acrylic on Canvas (detail)

A day in the life of a large-scale abstract painting. This is the third day on this particular piece and I’m really enjoying the process of making marks. I’m trying to achieve a sense of energy, dynamism, and optimism. Sweeping arcs of translucent color seem to be the way forward using a broad range of arm and hand movements There is no room for hesitation or excessive deliberation in this approach. As a musician, I feel this approach has a great deal in common with the seamless transitions of ‘slide’ guitar.

100 x 150 cm Acrylic on Canvas (detail)