more grey sky thinking, out of the blue

more cloud gazing this week, torrential rain all day on tuesday (a typically british summer’s day) – this was the view from the window at about 6pm…

electricity power lines outside a window, with cloudy sky
a room with a view

i hadn’t really noticed how prominent these power lines were before; my days must be slowly draining of any meaningful structure if i get distracted by this visual discordance with nature’s billowy curtain… today when i awoke, i did, for a brief moment, wonder what day it was, whether it was saturday already, and that a day of more domestic to-do-tasks await me, tasks which fuel so little enthusiasm as to be remotely filed and archived for just such rainy days

in the manner of these featureless, grey days i have been feeling somewhat melancholic in heart and the vast canvas of the sky seemed to be a reflection of the reality of recent events…

thus, i have not been motivated to paint much, well perhaps for an hour or so, here and there, when the mood takes. it seems too self-indulgent to ‘just paint’ when real-life concerns pile up like the laundry, and then there has been the issue of the quality of daylight

here are a couple of close-up images of one of my current paintings, lichenscape II (a work in progress), taken earlier on today…

lichenscape ii - abstract painting - lichen textures detail
detail of the surface of the painting, lichen on stone textures

i had a rash moment of destructive thinking when evaluating this canvas (perhaps inspired by these photographic reframings, seeing paintings within paintings), deciding that i might cut up the canvas into nine smaller ones – the lack of a decent-sized studio space to work in is almost unbearable at times…

i have found that in attending to these two large canvases (aka the lichenscapes) it has clouded my creative process – i realise that i am trying to condense into these two paintings a subjective concern which would be better pursued over eight or ten (or even more) paintings. myriad other thoughts (too nebulous to be proper working concepts or ideas) also run daily through my mind, and then i have to remind myself to just focus

lichenscape 2 painting - detail of surface textures
another detail of the textured surface of a lichen-esque painting

exhibition news

yesterday evening i attended the private view of the exhibition rebirth. lorraine cooke, the curator of the exhibition, has done an amazing job in bringing this show together. i feel most privileged to have some of my paintings included in this art exhibition.

i realise that i am still reticent in ‘working‘ the private view scenario, as i slowly perused the exhibition on the opening night – this is probably due to: a) being very slight and thus am always less ‘visible’ in a busy gallery crowd, and also b) a (now) love/hate relationship with my new dr marten boots. i walked to the gallery from the train station and worked up some fine blisters – such small injuries can really be the breaking of the spirit.

i also met and chatted with the artist veronica grassi – she has some quite beautiful textural, sculptural pieces in this exhibition. barbara leaney’s dogwood sculptures are also quite spectacular, as are the smaller, detailed works of the contemporary japanese artists included in the show. i urge anyone passing through the fine city of norwich to go and see the exhibition at gallery art1821 – it is open until 8th september 2010 – you can also read more about the rebirth exhibition on art 1821’s website

to further the idleness of my daily musings and observations, dear reader, may i introduce to you my humble sketching kit? (i always like to travel light, a habit instilled in me since my inter-railing journeys across europe)

winsor newton cotman sketchers watercolour box
my winsor & newton sketchers’ box of watercolours

very small jam jar for sketching watercolours
a tiny tiptree jam jar (for water)

assorted sketching pencils derwent and caran d'ache
an assortment of stubby sketching pencils, mostly derwent & caran d’ache

and here is a composite image of my sketchbookiness of the last few days, 21-29 july, 2010…

sketchbook pages - studies of clouds and skies, late july 2010
skies and clouds sketches

sketchbook drawing - study of a grey cloud
monday, mid afternoon, looking east across fields towards marshes, high up in the sky, grey centre… in graphite, pencil and watercolour…

sketchbook drawing - more skies and clouds
wednesday, early afternoon… looking east, cooler, bright, clouds moving fast… in graphite and pencil…

sketchbook drawing - study of an afternoon sky
thursday, late afternoon, slim, dark clouds moving laterally, about 5pm…

this is becoming slightly obsessive; i have a mild desire to master the morphing art of the east anglian skies…

and i penned another haiku style poem, or my own ode to a cloud

a cloud
tarnished silver
darkening the weeping willows

i am now thinking of joining the cloud appreciation society, whose pledge is to fight the banality of blue-sky thinking

see my cloud drawings animation from last year: the art of idleness

last chance to seetextures, traces & elements at beyond the image gallery – the exhibition closes at 4pm on sunday 1st august 2010.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust (remembrance of things past)


  1. Jazz
    Posted July 30, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    normal for norfolk…

    whilst typing this i heard on the news of another sell-out exhibition of paintings by a seven-year-old child prodigy (kieron williamson) from norfolk – £150,000 apparently (he also had a sell-out show in norfolk last year)…

    what bewilders me is what buyers are investing in here – has there ever been a case in history of a child artist/prodigy going on to be a successful and collectible living artist as an adult?… leaving aside picasso, as picasso’s parents were not selling his childhood paintings for great sums of money when he was still a child…

    kieron williamson on bbc news

  2. Charles
    Posted July 31, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It seems to be some kind of novelty, we seem to be fascinated by technique and its relationship with age. Maybe buyers think that this kid *might* go on to awesome things, maybe some are middle-class money…

    In reality, it is a little frustrating to see so *much* money being spent on one persons work, rather than, in a way, this money being *spread* out by buying others’ works… and keeping the clock ticking for all art.

    I hope to begin to sell my Paintings and prints when I have graduated, and it would be glib and trite for me to say anything now, especially if I had lost employment, but I hope that I would keep on going, enjoying what I do. I guess its a little like the wabi-Sabi, unconditional acceptance can be a liberating thing…

    btw Ive only just started to appreciate watercolours. I couldn’t before, I never understood the people painting them or how they worked, its funny how I’ve changed.

  3. Jazz
    Posted July 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    thank you for the comment, charles …

    yes, it’s a ‘c’est la vie’ moment…

    the news ’story’ stirs up some interesting debate, re. the work of ‘one’ artist and the supporting role of the parents. the rapid progression of his painting style is staggering although i believe he likes to work from photographs. the money will secure his future but will he live to resent the ‘fame’ later in life? do you remember the boy antiques expert, who is now living life as a lady…. what a world, huh… wild at heart and weird on top…

    another aspect i find interesting is the very nostalgic quality of the paintings that could not be in the emotional mindset of such a young artist, but if one was to imagine that they were made by a middle-aged aged artist we’d likely dismiss them as very sentimental… he clearly just likes to paint, but don’t all kids? – perhaps he should move on to portraits…

  4. Charles
    Posted July 31, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with your analysis of the sentimentality of the work, and perhaps an idea of the fickleness of some of the art world inherent in some of the human nature (Im a very cynical type lol) because if this guy had been in his fifties it would have been dismissed as local art club evening stuff.

    It does also make us enquire into the attitude of the parents. Is a kid meant to be painting like this at a young age? has he got the ideas from somewhere else? Is he the mirror of someone else?What would he happen if he did a ‘pollock’ lol etc etc etc. (this will happen at the onset of his mid teens, late nights, and curious amounts of time spent alone in his room with or without the compnay of alcohol and pherhaps what could be called a ‘muse’ (wether the relationship is fleeting or enduring);-D

    Regarding the photographs thing, I know of a hyper realist who is selling in Plus One at £30 k a work who uses those techniques, although maybe its to be expected from that kind of thing – YAAAWWWWWNNNN ! lol. I learnt them as illustration techniques, and know that purists would pherhaps consider them as inauthentic and misleading, a crutch to debatable observational skills – which may bring up even more debate! lol.

  5. Jazz
    Posted August 2, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    thank you for your comment.

    am just pondering, do people say out loud ‘lol’ in place of actually laughing out loud? the wonders of an changing language, but i digress…

    the question that often arises – where does the talent come from, as the parents of the ‘gifted’ often state they are not artistic but there is always an interesting back story…

    re. working from photographs – lots of artists use photography as references in their work – the styles, techniques, ideas and concepts will inevitably vary which all adds to the debate. i don’t know much about hyperrealism other than the photographic aspect (am assuming there is also some conceptual grounding to it), but there seems to be a a lot of skill (and time) involved in making the work.

    i do not know the ‘plus one gallery’ but anyone mildly interested can visit their website…