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 just been working on a commission based on one of my recent New Forest paintings. It has taken over two months from start to completion and I am genuinely pleased with final outcome. For those of you who have worked on a commission before you will know that they can sometimes be problematic. I think it is extremely important to be clear about the nature of the painting process and to communicate this through discussion with the other party.
Each painting is inevitably unique and few artists would be able to recreate an existing painting or exact copy unless the style owed more to photographic realism and/or geometric precision. You will see from the close up details that this painting has been developed through the application of successive layers of oil paint and cold wax medium. The raised surface and tactile nature of the work embodies the textural qualities of the subject matter.
This is a large oil painting on a 122 x 92 cm canvas. It is semi abstract and expressionistic in terms of technique and approach. It is however, based indirectly on nature and more specifically on the hedgerows of the fenland in East Anglia. Trees, brambles and woody shrubs such as hawthorn, blackthorn and field maple create an exuberant entanglement of chaotic growth.
The material and paint I have used is applied with a variety of tools including brushes, palette knives and assorted scrapers. As you will see, the surface is built up in heavy impasto layers and translucent glazes accumulating over a period of time. I have been working on this piece for a couple of years now and it has undergone numerous changes; that is just part of my process. Some of you will no doubt see the influence of the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter.
…..And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all.
Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment.
There are other places
Which also are the world’s end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.
From a poem by T.S. Eloit
‘The Three Realms’ by Peter Corr
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 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.
The conceptual artist Richard Long would have enjoyed using these industrial machines. On the road leading to the village of Coveney, old irrigation ditches are being refurbished. Giant earth moving equipment cuts through the clay subsoil in V cross sections, like a knife through butter. Water immediately flows into the channel and mirrors the sky. These large scale sculptural interventions will never find their way to the Tate Modern turbine hall…but they really should.
Below are 4 videos shot just after the exhibition was set up
Location: The Old Fire Engine House in Ely, Cambridgeshire: 25 St Mary’s St, Ely CB7 4ER
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.
I spent a number of days walking amongst the trees and gathering information for a series of paintings through drawing and photography; I absorbed the sights and sounds of the trees in the forest and found a way to recreate something of that experience in paint.
I am interested in surfaces and textures and the way materials can be combined to create tactile qualities. Cold wax can be applied in thin layers or heavy impasto. It can be scored, scoured and burnished like a rich stoneware ceramic glaze; it can left dry, broken, fragmented and uneven. I have included up a number of close up photographs to give some indication of the extremely rich and highly textured surface of the painting; you can also begin to see in the reflections, the depth and lustre contained in the burnished wax.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
’Til it’s gone…
Joni Mitchell, from “Big Yellow Taxi,” lyrics written circa 1967–68