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 took the opportunity during my Fine Art degree course at Manchester Art College to work in the print room. I really loved the process of etching, preparing the copper sheets, drawing into the wax surface, revealing the bare metal and immersing the plate in sulphuric acid. The depth of line being controlled by time and the concentration of the acid solution. It is always a magical process and difficult to predict the outcome. I guess in many ways I have come full circle; that was over 40 years ago and I’m still drawing, scoring into surfaces and creating marks.
This series of paintings use tar, oil paint and cold wax and to some extent they can be manipulated to echo the qualities found in intaglio etching. Many artists say they begin a work without preconceptions and just allow the image to emerge and take form.
One of the assumptions about this technique is that it leaves open the opportunity for the spontaneous and unexpected to arise as the work progresses. This may be the case with particular pieces and you may occasionally ‘get lucky’. I prefer to think that this approach is often quite calculated and measured. It is about generating visual ideas through accident and chance, then looking carefully and reflecting on what has been produced and intervening to strengthen those qualities.
The ‘detail’ images shown below will give you some indication of the nature of the marks and the subtlety of the wax and tar surface. Beeswax is a beautiful medium to work with; selective burnishing enhances reflective qualities and a sense of depth and texture.
I think late Autumn and Winter are probably the best seasons for landscape photographers living in the Fenlands. I know that Cambridgeshire doesn’t have the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales or even the Trough of Bowland, but it does have something special.
At this time of year the landscape maintains a gritty and determined resolve. There is a complete absence of pretension and prettiness. The uneven roads and tilted telegraph poles, the isolated columns of tall trees, vast skies with fields stretching to the distant horizon makes me feel as if I have been cast adrift on an open sea.
John Clare: The Fens
There’s not a hill in all the view,
Save that a forked cloud or two
Upon the verge of distance lies
And into mountains cheats the eyes.
And as to trees the willows wear
Lopped heads as high as bushes are;
Some taller things the distance shrouds
That may be trees or stacks or clouds
Or may be nothing; still they wear
A semblance where there’s nought to spare.
The Fenlands are highly productive agricultural land and at this time of year, farmers can be seen ploughing and tilling the earth in readiness for the next year. The tilling blades comb the topsoil, mixing and aerating as they are dragged across the fields. I have used plaster, oil and cold wax medium, alternately scoring and layering the materials to recreate the furrowed surface. The late evening light at this time of year has a warm soft glow that I have tried to capture with gold iridescent paint.
For me, a title is an important element in the creation of a painting. I know that many abstract painters use numerical systems to identify and classify their work. I prefer to title each image and through the invention of the title, try to enhance the life, associations and potential relevance of the work. In this instance, I really wanted a title that would express in a very direct way, the inspiration and the key components of this painting which of course relate to landscape. The title of this painting therefore is relatively straightforward; it refers to the three realms of earth, sky and water. I wasn’t aware until later that ‘The Three Realms’ has other, in many ways more interesting connotations. In Nichiren Buddhism ‘The Three Realms’ are, according to Quora:
(1) the realm of the five components
(2) the realm of living beings
(3) the realm of the environment.
These could be thought of simply as, from the standpoint of a human being, the person, society and the environment.
The materials used in this painting include oil paint, pumice stone and cold wax medium. The heavy impasto creates an almost rough hewn marble like surface pitted and marked with successive layers of cold wax and oil paint.
‘After the Rain’ 80 x 80 cm on canvas by Peter Corr
‘After the Rain’ could be seen as a departure from the tonality and minimalist approach I have been using recently, but even so, this painting remains firmly in the realm of abstraction.
The weather here in England is a a limitless topic of conversation for all of us and we have just experienced one of the hottest Summers on record. However, the wind and rain is never far away and this painting reflects my experience of cycling though the Fenland landscape, experiencing alternate moments of warm sun, showers and gusts of wind. In Cambridgeshire, the wind either carries you along on your cycle or stops you in your tracks. I can travel the same journey in half or double the time depending on the prevailing wind direction. I am increasingly convinced that the weather here in this part of the world is a living entity, a whimsical creature, a chameleon.
Detail from ‘After the Rain’ by Peter Corr
In ‘After the Rain’ I have tried to convey a sense of movement and changing light, using angular shapes, a kaleidoscope of colour and dissolving forms. You may detect the spatial devices of overlap, fragmentation and multiple viewpoints employed by the Cubists and later on, the Italian Futurists.
“……..Nobody would affirm that the tree grows its crown in the image of its root. Between above and below can be no mirrored reflection. It is obvious that different functions expanding in different elements must produce divergences”.
This is one of a new series of paintings continuing and extending my interest in less conventional art materials. I have drawn inspiration from the raw and unadorned nature of the Fenland landscape and tried to reflect the rich tactile qualities of the earth fusing tar, bitumen, hessian, oil paint and cold wax medium. My approach is gradually becoming more instinctive and physical, often working directly on the floor, scraping, dissolving and burning materials until unpredictable and unexpected transformations take place. When I reach a point were the image really begins to surprise and engage me, I have found a resolution.
The grid like imagery refers obliquely to the patchwork quilt of fields and enclosures as if rendered from an aerial perspective. The gouges, marks and striations echo the relentless impact of man and farming on the natural world.
This painting is currently on show at The Old Fire Engine House in Ely, Cambridgshire, UK. The materials used include oil, cold wax, bitumen, pumice stone and plaster scrim. The title is essentially poetic and does not refer to a specific place or location; my recent landscape paintings are a reflection of my understanding and experience of the Fenland landscape of Cambridgeshire. I am interested in the evocative power of abstract imagery to engage us and to challenge our need to find meaning and purpose in what may appear to be arbitrary shapes, marks, tones and textures.
This is a large mixed media painting on a 122cm x 92cm professional quality canvas. It was produced from studies created during my recent residency in the New Forest; the work is partly expressionistic and impressionistic in terms of technique and style. The medium is cold wax and oil paint applied with a variety of tools including brushes , scalpels and palette knives. The surface is built up in heavy impasto and alternately glazed and scored over a period of time.
I have been influenced by the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter. If you have a moment, take a closer look at the detailed photographs to gain a more tangible sense of the textural qualities in this work.
This painting is currently on exhibition at The Old Fire Engine House in Ely until 28th October along with work from the artists Paul Janssens and Caroline Forward.
This is a mixed-media landscape painting on a 100 x 75 cm deep edge canvas. Semi abstract and expressionistic in terms of technique and style, it is based on my day to day experience of living in the dramatic Fenland landscape of East Cambridgeshire in England. The heavy texture of the painting combines gesso, sand, plaster, bitumen and iridescent metallic paint. I wanted to create a work that was almost tangible in terms of its physicality and weight, a painting that could be seen as a piece of sculpture or stoneware ceramic. The materials used are applied with a variety of tools including brushes, palette knives, assorted scrapers and cards. The surface impasto is witness to an extended process of accumulation and sedimentation, very much akin to the layering of earth over time. I have been influenced by the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter.
Gilded Shore is an abstract painting in terms of technique, style and intention. It is based on the flat, open landscapes of the East Anglian, Cambridgeshire Fenland. Semi transparent glazes give depth and luminosity as light is reflected through the layers of pigment. The variegated surface of the painting is achieved with thickly applied bitumen and cold wax medium. The lustrous quality or sheen is achieved through a combination of burnishing the wax surface and interleaved layers of metallic paint. A variety of tools and implements have been used to create incisions, marks and subtle textures that can be read as earth, sky, and water. The restricted references to three dimensional space is designed to create a subtle counterpoint the pictorial flatness of the deep raw and burnt umbers.