Tag Archives: insights

Restless…

I feel a restless energy, this evening, it’s still windy outside, I should be going to bed now but the urge to paint again is returning, after a long period of observing, reflecting, sketching, seeking inspiration from others in exhibitions, doing other things..

The most recent catalyst was spending time in the Van Goch Museum in Amsterdam, including a painting workshop, about which more in a subsequent post.

Since returning and diving back into a very busy time at work, with its own circumstances to drive my restlessness, I managed finally to start some acrylic sketching on Sunday night; just acrylic on brown parcel paper, the tone and texture of which are perfect as a mid-tone.

This evening, a quick and rough self-portrait study in a small mirror by poor light and using up the last paint in the palette …

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I feel like something’s going on, a step forward, it feels to me…

Time to sleep, while the wind blows.

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Sketcher-gatherer.

I’m getting settled into the new house, a mix of decorative and edible plants are growing in their new, crowded, pots outside, furniture in a functional style is taking form from former pallets and scaffolding planks and this period of very European weather is a welcome contrast to the winter cold and brexit chaos. I can sit outside with coffee and cake and watch a seagull seize the opportunity to help clear one of the other tables.

My painting fallow period is extending a bit, which feels fine. I’m still sorting out a space at home for artwork and am enjoying the three-dimensional process of working with wood to make useful things. In between work and domestic matters I am observing, reflecting, sketching and gathering impressions, ideas and inspiration from my local travels and occasional visits to galleries; two recent exhibitions in Edinburgh have given me much to mull over and aim to experiment with, once the outdoor conditions become relatively less inviting or distracting.

Chris Bushe’s wonderful impressionistic landscapes, on show at the Open Eye Gallery was inspiring. It was recommended to me by one of the staff in the nearby Greyfriars art shop, a rare example of a proper art shop with people who know their products. As soon as I stepped into the gallery I was struck by the scale and texture of his paintings, I felt a simultaneous sense of atmosphere of the open landscape and the almost physical sensation of the painted surface; content and surface, figurative and abstract elements coexisting. This is what I enjoy about painting with acrylic, perhaps I could grow to feel the same about oils with more practice too.

The Royal Scottish Academy open exhibition had a wonderfully broad range of work on show that got me thinking and filling sketchbook pages with thumbnail sketches and notes to browse through and decipher over subsequent coffee.

My cup is empty, the bus departs soon. Next post will have some recent sketches, clover from a fallow field, fixing nutrients for a future harvest.

Happy weekend to you!

Snow Tree

I’ve felt dissatisfied with my art recently, stuck, able to see where I’d like to be but not able to make the moves that actually take me there, or getting bogged down in the details or technicalities and losing the experience that caught me in the first place.

Last week, in a weather imposed break from work – heavy snow led to them shutting down for 3 days – I took a walk through the lovely woods nearby, returning along what remains of the Antonine Wall, trees growing where once were Romans.

A young but twisted birch tree caught my eye, the snow and light giving it a quality of appearance as if drawn. The wind was cold and another blizzard squall beginning. I looked at it, held by the colours and quality of it, took a photo and moved on.

It stayed in my mind, on the way back home.

I thought I’d done enough sketching, a few minutes before, hands cold enough to feel I could use that as an excuse.

Looking back at the photographs, I tried a couple of small sketches. Something was niggling my mind, just before bed, I did another study, pen dipped in ink, scratching the paper, watercolour quickly applied. .. A result I felt happy with, to sleep upon.

Now, this evening, again a little late, before bed, a study of myself in the big mirrors. Drawing pen, quick, then watercolour with a very limited palette. Allowing rather than trying to put into practice what I’d learned from the tree. .

First new step, maybe..

Goodnight.

Forgotten images…

A few years ago, when I lived in Wales, in a period of less work but more creative exploration, I started playing with adding words to photos that had some resonance for me.  This evening I rediscovered a few, inspired to search by a friend’s recent works that combine various media and are being shown online.  One of her recent photos reminded me of one that I took at a studio in an old barn where I used to paint.

Here are a couple, to give you the idea.  I may put up some more soon, from another project.  But now it’s late and I have to be up early.  At present, I have more work and less energy and time for creative exploration, that’s ok, I’ve chosen this.

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Inspirational Workshopping

Until yesterday, I had never tried the monoprint technique. I had not really understood the advantages and potential of this approach until the workshop, run by Art North Wales at the Trigonos centre in Nantlle.

We had a busy, productive and inspiring day, everybody producing very different and interesting work, with a vibrant atmosphere of playful exploration in the room as people rolled out ink and paints and experimented with paper, card, natural materials, collaging and more to try out new ways of image making.

For myself, I am trying to take a more free and loose style in my painting and drawing, especially in my landscape work.  After the first demonstration, I started to get a flood of ideas for possible ways of using this to achieve a shift in my paintings.

I started working on backgrounds, inspired by the wonderful autumnal colours that are persisting here and the layers of colours and forms in these Snowdonia valleys between the dramatic ridges.  Leaves and  stems from the grounds provided a set of printing medial to add layers to the pictures and I tried making multiple impressions, each one very different, as is the nature of monoprinting.  The results are below, I have been inspired and will be looking at how I can incorporate some of these methods into my work…

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Autumn Change 1

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Autumn Change 3

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Autumn Change 2

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Autumn Change 4

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Ivy 1

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Ivy 2

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Ivy 3

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Nantlle rain

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Nantlle 1

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Nantlle 2

 

“Into an old, new land”

Here is a preview of a new landscape painting, inspired by recent experiences in Scotland as dramatic rain clouds rolled in over Creag Meagaidh , as well as other things seen in the Cairngorms, earlier in the year.  Unusually, for me, it combines elements from several experiences. This and other acrylic works are on the updated Acrylic paintings page.

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Into an old, new land – acrylic on canvas 76x51cm 2016

The inspiration for this painting ‘boiled up’ for me in the wake of the UK’s referendum on EU membership, added to what transpired to be a fruitless journey at short notice.  I felt the result in a very personal way that surprised me; I spoke to others who said the same. As the train rolled south on the day of the result, I felt I was returning to a land that was less home, more foreign, to me now.  The heaviness of the greys in the clouds, which I find beautiful and fascinating to watch, along with the strong contrasts and feeling of compression of the mountains, the gaps of light offering possible escape routes from the crushing presence of the rain-bearing masses.. all these had a resonance for me in the present situation.

I may add some finishing work to this, though not a great deal, it is essentially ‘done’.  I feel the sense of danger but also opportunity that changes bring; it is not an easy time.

 

Classic Modern

Today I’ve been accompanying a visit by art students from the school to London and the Tate Modern. The long coach journey has limited our time there but they have still had an all-too-rare opportunity to see some influential and thought-provoking works. I will be interested to see, from the sidelines, what fresh ideas they bring into their work after this.
They are good, motivated and pleasant students and my role as ‘responsible (male) adult’ has been easy so far. Free of the burdens of teaching, I had the luxury of being able to make notes and sketches of my own and to use some reflection time to gain some ideas and even a few insights.
I like the Tate Modern, from its wonderful cathedral-like turbine hall to its range of exhibits and the wide range of :ordinary’ people visiting.
I found myself drawn to Mark Rothko’s deeply meditative ‘seagram murals. Ideas arose for me about colour and the responses that arise from immersing oneself in the experience of it. When I sit in front of these colossal canvases, I feel a deep calm that I encounter also in good meditation sessions. I also have a distinct feeling of a low, continuous, note, just on the edge of hearing. I ask myself why I have still not made my own attempt to work woth really bold colours, which I do use as base layers for my landscapes.
One of Joan Miró’s paintings also evoked something of this feeling for me, the deep blue field drawing me to stand as close as I was allowed and simply looking, feeling no need to imterpret or even ask questions, it was sufficient to spend time in the experience of the colour. Calm, nearly soporific, a feeling of deep space…. Was this the dream-like association referred to in the exhibition text?
Ideas sit, captured in the pages of my sketchbook and circulating in my mind.
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