Yearly Archives: 2010

small change

Wednesday 15 December 2010

a small change on my art for sale page… the studio gallery or little picture shop, a humble means of generating some creative commerce in the digital age, some intended artfulness, a place for the curious to browse or buy, the small shop for art that i quietly oversee and very occasionally promote.

if you can spare some change you might be interested to know that these small paintings are now listed in british £££ – although you can opt to pay in whatever currency you choose; worldwide Paypal will do the currency conversion automatically (which is nice)…

Abstract Painting. Mustard, Turquoise, Olive, Grey Stripes

LXXIX 2009, abstract stripes painting on paper [click to view more small paintings]

a big part of the online shopping experience is waiting for the special parcel to duly arrive, wrapped up in all the anticipation & excitement of receiving a gift that you really wanted…

FJORD modern abstract canvas art
fjord 2010 [click to view details]

to celebrate the small change in my shop, there is free p&p to anywhere in the UK mainland…

Modern Art BOOKMARKS five abstracts

[bookmarks, for books, naturally enough]

my online art shop is really an extension of my art studio, a selection of small abstracts on paper and even smaller works on canvas – of which, if you are one that has visited this blog before, might know a little about when and how they came about. these are all small, experimental works which are more process-oriented but they relate to (and perhaps even influence) my other paintings…

Small Abstract Painting. Grey Brown Teal Blue stripes
xciv, 2009 [click to view in my gallery shop]

view some of the original chromatids, a series of 100 small paintings on paper that were completed between november 2008 and march 2009. these small works are probably the most collectively colourful series of work i have ever created and yet i never outwardly planned to paint them at all – but i do have an ongoing thing about numbers, patterns and squares. i like squares for their impartiality and objectivity…

i usually work with a more subtle or reduced palette of colours on my larger canvases and panels, so this series has been a good exercise to explore colour and texture on this small scale for its own playful & expressive means, and in turn the one hundred paintings later inspired the creation of these distinctive bookmarks – a simple change in format opened up some new ideas to pursue…

Coastal Art BOOKMARKS - abstract designs prints sea shore beach
[a set of five art bookmarks – in subtle browns, blues and greens, liminal and coastal in palette]
modern canvas art. grey pink red violet abstract stripes. TRINIDAD
trinidad 2010 [click to view more]

ok, art for sale promotion over – i always feel a little uneasy doing this, i don’t want to seem too pushy – these are just a few of the things that i have done, things that in their own way make a path to the other art i want to make and do…

for now, i have some new exhibitions to focus on (which i hinted at previously) in the year ahead – but there are no pictures-in-progress because… well, it’s complicated – stuff happened, i thought a lot about it, what to do next… let’s just call this a deliberate episode of photography withdrawal, a creative interlude, a pause in the digital proceedings… purging the senses, a space to think, to write notes or sketch, to doodle and draw, to just make art – just how it used to be… i am always taking a philosophical stance on things…

My field of perception is constantly filled with a play of colours, noises and fleeting tactile sensations which I cannot relate precisely to the context of my clearly perceived world, yet which I nevertheless immediately ‘place’ in the world, without ever confusing them with my daydreams.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty in The Phenomenology of Perception

Thank you for your continued support of my art.

snowbound in a sketchbook, once again

Sunday 5 December 2010

it was the early morning shock of seeing a thin film of ice on the inside of the windows that prompted a couple of snowy walkabouts this week… for some exercise, some fresh air, to warm up, an excuse perhaps to think more about and reconnect with this rural landscape…

suffolk snow landscape painting - sketchbook

a hill and some snow, acrylic on paper, 8″ x 12″

i carried with me a sketchbook (or three!) but, for a change, i took some small tubes of acrylic and a few offcuts of card. why on earth go out sketching in this inclement weather? well, the intention was to go for a bracing walk and the opportunity to do some outdoor sketching seemed like a good idea at the time… i just needed some white, brown, blue, a little yellow ochre… (you can view last week’s before the snow winter field sketches here)…

these three small sketches are about 5″ x 16″

suffolk snow landscape field - sketchbook

suffolk snow sketches - sketchbook

suffolk snow fields horizon - sketchbook

[click to view larger]

i discovered a new footpath which i had not seen signposted before, perhaps because all the surrounding vegetation that would have concealed it had died back. some farmers, it seems, don’t like to draw attention to the public rights of way that circumnavigate their fields. this particular footpath began at the roadside – it was a quick scramble up a steepish, stepped incline through a small thicket of elder, hawthorn, briar, bramble and the like, which soon thinned out onto a small footbridge across a ditch, which opened into the corner of a large field – regimental stalks of harvested maize pricking through the blanket of snow..

suffolk field snow landscape sketch

winter field with stubble, 8′ x 22″

i walked a narrow path between the hedgerow and the broken lines of sown crops, minding the occasional black hole which indicated a rabbit burrow. in the snow i could see the pitter-patter pattern of animal footprints, probably a dog i thought but i could see no human companion footprints –  were they the trail of a hare, a fox or muntjacs perhaps? the hedgerow seemed to have shaken off most of the recent snowfall and so it exhibited an interesting patchwork of textures and colours when viewed against the snow – from the sepia hues of damp, dead wood to the musty grey-black of dead nettles, small patches of fading green to grey, the auburn brown of tall docks, shades of bronze and tarnished copper on the edges of leaves, the prickly hawthorn branches dotted with red berries…

suffolk snow field hedgerow - sketchbook

field and hedgerow, acrylic on paper, 8″ x 12″

the line of the hedgerow led slowly uphill, then turned an abrupt corner at an oak tree – and hereabouts, sheltered from the chilled midday air with a scattered carpet of acorn husks underfoot, it afforded a clear view of valley ahead. smooth white fields, lightly traced out by their boundary hedgerows, sloped gently to the south and east, a distant cluster of trees merged into a mist of many layered greys. to the north the field’s straight crop lines seemed to converge at a point near the flat horizon, with only the faintest delineation of trees to suggest where the land ended and the sky began…

snow winter field sketch painting - sketchbook

winter field, acrylic on paper, 8″ x 12″

some people assume that suffolk is, in the main, quite a flat county, but this is because the most travelled routes follow more even ground. walk a little off the beaten track and the vistas become much more undulating and expansive – made even more appealing to the senses when there is snow on the ground. all seems for a short while quite serene, quite still. snow softens the sounds and disguises the blemishes, it sculpts, smoothes and redefines, drawing out the best features of a seemingly natural geography…

perhaps on reflection it was not such a good idea to use acrylics as they did not dry properly in the ice cold air. to stop the sketchbook pages from sticking together i sandwiched them with maize leaves, powdery bark and even clumps of snowy soil, all of which had added some interesting textural effects by the time i had headed back. something of real substance to work with, so i applied more white acrylic here and there, the remains of soil and the blurry smears of paint became the tangible traces of walking. i rather like that they turned out this way, incomplete and unrefined, within each rough gesture or mark is a brief thought or memory that relates to the experience – exhibiting the very spirit of a brisk walk in the wintry, white landscape…

these two sketches are 8′ x 22″, on black card – it is (or was) a photograph album…

field snow landscape sketch

suffolk fields snow - sketchbook

[click to view larger]

so, these small studies have really become remembered landscapes, they no longer exist, the snow has now vanished, but we have been warned that the snow will return…

i often remind myself that i have become something of a cave painter – i see things (discarded, redundant or dead things, mostly!) and then i retreat to the studio cave to make art out of the experience. sketching in the landscape seems to be a means to re-engage but also to step back a little, to take in the wider view…

some secrets revealed

Sunday 28 November 2010

these are the four small postcard paintings that i submitted to the recent rca secret exhibition at the royal college of art…

they were not signed on the front, nor do they have any titles…

other than the ubiquitous roman numerals…

untitled i, ii, iii and iv, 2010

if any environmental influence were needed for these four abstracts then maybe these four photographs might suffice to illustrate (i am now recycling some of my blog images since a quick delve into the image folder revealed over 1500 used on this blog so far!)


lake, early morning


winter field in fog


a long view of the fens


stubble field with frost

i received an email this week from someone who had bought one of my secret postcards at the aforementioned rca exhibition, which was nice – but i wonder who might have bought the others..? since the exhibition was a ‘secret’ the works were displayed in a random order, so my postcards would not have been displayed together. you can view all 2800 postcards on the rca secret website, with the artists’ names now revealed. i’ve been having another browse through the secret archive…

who’d have guessed this was a genuine Grayson Perry?

[grayson perry, rca secret postcard, 2010]

i wonder which artist grayson perry could possibly be referring to, with the big, vaguely spiritual shiny sculpture..? hmm, could it be..? the room filled with people reading text panels made me chuckle, a rather laborious task which seems to be a prerequisite at any curated exhibition, because we must first know and then we can fully appreciate the art in context… and what of the never-heard-of artist in the isolated project space..? those sparsely occupied white cubicles where the art is often presented in the minimalist manner of a forensic investigation – collections of things in cabinets, suspended in space or more fugitive offerings on the floor, or perhaps a projected video playing on a loop – but it’ll be too dark to read the text panel… we have all been there

perhaps this all hints at perry’s cynicism towards much contemporary art – that of spectacle and performance. grayson perry is a british artist whose work reveals (firstly in ceramics but more recently in textiles and printmaking) with a wry hogarthian eye, the cultural & social issues of our times. his work also graciously acknowledges many historical, narrative influences – one can see elements of european folk art, medieval paintings, classical greek, egyptian, chinese or japanese art. with a dash of dark comedy thrown into the creative pot he provides us with a thought-provoking visual commentary on contemporary life, from war to shopping.

i first saw his ceramic vases at the 2003 turner prize exhibition at tate britain and instantly knew he would win – and he did! he successfully married beautiful craftsmanship with thought-provoking and often shocking social narratives. i like that his ‘pots’ (as he still humbly calls them) bear the hallmarks of being handcrafted, ever so slightly irregular in the tradition of coiled pots – it seems unthinkable that he would use studio assistants, unlike the other brit artists of his generation. he still manages to assume the role of a roguish outsider and yet he is fast becoming something of national celebrity, in the mould of stephen fry or michael palin – entertaining and enlightening us in equal measure, but many are not happy that such ‘celebrities’ travel the world at our expense – but aren’t they missing the point? i think that perry is one of the most engaging & intelligent artists working in the uk.

[tracey emin, rca secret postcard, 2010]

tracey emin’s postcards were, in contrast and rather predictably so, showing emin’s scratchy poetic words and spontaneous doodlings, so much so that i thought they must be fakes, another artist or a student having a joke, in light of the recent news report of emin fakes for sale on ebay… emin thought the fakes were very poor quality and too ‘sentimental’ to be ‘true’ emin’s – i guess she’s the best judge, but ‘sentiment’ seems to be innate her style, the work often looking quite weak out of context…

emin is quite a contradiction in that she needs to ‘confess’ her feelings and yet derides the public response that it causes – does she want our pity, our love or just our respect? she comes across being very in control of her emotions and what they project (some might even say manipulative), but exhibiting just enough angst or vulnerability to be mildly intriguing. her best work is undoubtedly the appliquéd textile pieces, perhaps because they appear less sentimental, but with the so-called ‘drawings’ or monoprints i am left wondering just what the big secret is…

it is interesting to compare perry with emin – it’s no secret that both had troubled childhoods which has undoubtedly been a factor in their art, but it seems some artists create a ‘confessional’ type art as a method of personal psychoanalysis much better than others…

thinking about perry & emin also reminds me that it’s drawing close to the time when the current year’s turner prize winner will be revealed to the nation. the turner prize, if anyone needs reminding, is an annual art prize which is awarded to ‘a British artist under fifty for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding‘. in 1999 the shortlist included tracey emin, the exhibition featuring emin’s ‘my bed’ – a true mess of an installation which still ignites controversy in art circles. emin herself has since said she (or the work) was probably nominated to add a flurry of media interest. the remade ‘unmade bed’ definitely drew some attention, most spectacularly from a pair of chinese performance artists. emin didn’t win the prize that year, but the exhibition did inspire the alternative and rather ridiculous turnip prize (mentioned previously here), where any artwork can be entered so long as it’s rubbish… you can view some of the current turnip prize entries on their facebook page

sometimes rubbish can be art, but that’s another story…