There are no hills in the Fenlands, but here and there low ridges break the flatness. In our fevered imaginations these 5 to 10 metres of reluctant altitude become the golden hills of a shared aspiration. Keen cyclists who have lived here far longer than they really ought to, speak of ‘brutally steep inclines’, ‘body position’ and ‘low gear momentum’. As painters, we take liberties with the time/space continuum…..creating our own interpretation of events. It isn’t a translation, its more of a transcription. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
I completed this relatively large acrylic piece about 2 years ago and it is definitely lighter and more colourful than my recent work. Generally abstract in terms of technique it is loosely based on the rhythms and cycles of growth seen in nature. I guess we all go through cycles in our approach to painting – and life – moving between what might be considered irrational exuberance and returning to the safe haven of sober reflection.
The surface is built up with impasto medium, combined with tissue, leaves, newsprint and card. In the later stages, translucent glazes have been added to increase the perception of depth and luminosity. I have long since arrived at the conclusion that my fascination with Cubism and Futurism is inherent in everything I do creatively.
I am currently working on this relatively large painting in my studio. It is based on the extensive fields of barley, maize and wheat surrounding the small city of Ely here in the heart of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. I have tried to show the intensity of the warm golden colours we experience at this time of year and also achieve a lustrous paint surface. You will note that this work has little connection with photographic reproduction but is more concerned with the exuberance of growth, the fecundity and entanglement found in nature. The materials I work with are unconventional but offer the potential for inspirational outcomes if unexpected and unpredictable. The role of chance in a painting like this is critical and I am constantly alert to the interplay of line, tone and texture, that in my view, create the warp and weft of a successful image.
The materials include oil paint, plaster, bitumen, metallic enamel, cold wax, pumice stone.
In the Cambridgeshire Fenlands I often stumble across defunct and discarded farm machinery, sometimes surfacing, sometimes sinking, like forgotten clusters of alien bones amidst fields of wheat and barley.
A Fenland house possessing all the pretension and self-importance of a full-sized house. I could see Dougal having a problem with the scale of this one… Is it small? Or far away? Who lives in a house like this?
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.
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.
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.