Monthly Archives: March 2006

Lost and Found

Monday 27 March 2006

I received an email from another artist and my reply encapsulates the theme of this artist journal entry:
Never throw anything away! File away your experiments and don’t look at them for a few weeks – with a fresh eye you will find a future use for them. I keep all my colour/texture experiments…We all get “stuck” sometimes. I think I’m stuck too – i keep reverting to horizontals (which is a direct influence of the very flat open landscape here) but also i feel if I add other compositional elements it will become too busy and perhaps too decorative. My latest large work ‘mud slide’ is so overbearingly depressing to me now since it was created during a bleak period, but if I add to or rework it will lose its metaphorical origin…I recently took a train trip and took some slow exposures out of the window – they nearly all have dark, monochrome, blurred, horizontal bandings!…I have also been out observing and photographing dead or bare trees…their dark, skeletal structures against the sky or horizon…

I should be out there drawing but it has been so bitterly cold (we Brits love bemoaning the changeable weather!). A way back into drawing for me was doing enlarged works of sections of very small objects. With the extra space there is the opportunity to experiment more with mark-making and materials – and just enjoy the freedom. I have collected over a hundred pebbles with holes in them but I have yet to draw one of them – maybe I should right now! Henry Moore famously collected flint and old bones churned up in the ploughed fields around his home and then bound them with string – he had these on shelves in his studio…this is what i mean by a ‘concrete sketchbook’ – a multi-dimensional sketchbook, an ongoing source of inspiration and ideas. I have a wonderful piece of flint which always makes me think of Moore’s work.

I also have around 15 vaguely heart-shaped potatoes, pebbles and rocks but feel I could never translate them into an artwork – they’re merely quirks of nature which I find interesting. There is a famous house in Cambridge called Kettles Yard, in which the old Tate gallery director lived – left untouched since his death – a museum in which the works of Ben Nicholson et al hang alongside the simple arrangement of two feathers in a jar or a circle of beach pebbles on a table – truly inspiring…often these humble little arrangements of objects that we create and live with are also artworks and perhaps cannot be improved upon, drawing or otherwise…

The current ‘skin’ paintings are very slow to progress – I add another layer every few days…I envisage them suspending them in a mid space – affected by ambient or directional light…an experiment which may or may not work – but I have the pressure of a show in June in which people will want to see new work. Spring has been very slow to emerge here and I think it has slowed my work down…and so I must knuckle down and resolve all the ongoing pieces…view “stuck” as an alternative term for review and revise…what is it we are trying to say? I was once asked “Why make art”, to which I replied “to answer the question” – it is this question of ‘why’ we must constantly review (for ourselves), not only the visual outcomes…