Saturday, August 30, 2008

A sense of urgency

All artmaking has gone on "hold" for the moment. With less than three weeks to go before I leave for Cyprus and an exhibition of my stuff opening in my absence I have to get things ready before then. Consequently my studio space looks more like a framing workshop just now. Its a fiddly business making frames. The mitred joints in the corners have to be right. If work is badly presented then no matter how good the art is, it just won't connect with the viewing public.
They don't have to be super-duper frames, - they just have to look good. That's all. So a lot of time is spent simply attending to little details. I don't know of any artist who enjoys framing. But there are more to do and less time. I shall probably have to contract some of the work out. Actually, the cost of timber and glass these days plus the taking up of my own time probably means I'm not rewlly saving anything by doing it myself. Professional framers use pre-set jigs and can do the job quicker.
Anyway, here's a picture, the last bit of work to come off the drawing board a couple of days back. Each image is 60 cm long. I have an idea for making a much larger painting, probably about a metre and a half long from this. What is on this large sheet of paper is a series of different interpretations of the same theme. The top one in pencil, the next a drawing on top of watercolour, then one in layers of coloured inks and at the bottom, a gouache which is fairly close to how the final painting might look.
.... unless I change my mind.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Little Kwan-Yin

She sits on a shelf in my studio surrounded by other small sculpture pieces in front of a plinth holding a slightly larger piece of work. She is only 5 cm (2" in English) tall but refuses to be ignored. As the Scripture of Avelokiteswara Bodhisattva says,

"In all the world, in all the quarters, there is not a place where Kwan-Yin does not go."

Not even in my cluttered studio.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Work in Progress

Its been a little while since the last posting. I have been a bit out of sorts for the last few days. Last Thursday I though I would take a bus trip out to Glasson Dock and walk back to Lancaster. I reckon it is only three or so miles out of town. Er, nearer seven as i found out. It was an enjoyable walk and I was a bit footsore ere I finished it but that was to be expected. Then, after being back an hour or so i felt decidedly unwell then had to make a dash for the loo. Yup. I got the dire-horrors. Now GI infections with me are very rare. So whence cometh this one? Two questions come up here, (1) is this diarrhoea connected to exhuastion or (2) is it totally unrelated and just chose this moment to manifest? Either way, by 8-00 p.m. I was in bed shivering and with an extra blanket too for all it was a warm evening. Next morning I felt a bit better but decidedly fragile. It has taken a few days to get back to normal. Had I done too much? I sometimes wonder. My brain still pretends I'm 21 but at times my body reminds me that my twenty-first birthday was forty-seven years ago. I never learn!

The top picture shows one wall of my studio space at the moment. You can see the two sea pictures I featured earlier among the other stuff. The ideas are flooding in just now so its one seascape after another.

This picture is a general view of my cluttered desk and table. this is the usual scenario. On the drawing board in the foreground is a series of interpretations of a large tsunami-like breaker rolling in. There are three images thus far, the top one in graphite, the middle, a watercolour with graphite added and the lower one colouredd inks in several thin layers. Down by the tee-square is the faint outline of what will be another interpretation using gouache, a waterbased full bodied medium.

Life has its complications. Nice complications though. I have to have an exhibition of some 14 sea pictures ready before I go to Cyprus in just on a month's time. The exhibition will be at Qsand in Morecambe throughout October. I will be showing alongside another marine artist, Ben McLeod. Most of my stuff is ready but the gallery have selected two works on paper which are yet to be framed. So I'll have to stop artmaking and get on with making a couple of frames.

This last piece is the first of the wave-cum-tsunami pictures. It is about 8 cm high by 50 cm long. This is a watercolour with some gouache added. None of them have a title yet; they are all "Untitiled Number whatever". The image is from a sreies of sketches and a photo I took in St. Ives last December in an Atlantic gale. Quite a contrast to the Cyprus I had only just returned from a week before.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Paintings

I have made two new paintings over the last few days. Both of them are of the Atlantic at St. Ives. This first one of a wave is so far untitled but for the sake of cataloguing it is "Untitled (not Hokusai)"
Hokusai was a Japanese painter/printmaker who was famous for his picture of a wave. I have appended an image at the end.
This Untitled (not Hokusai) is 30 x 30 cm, acrylic on canvas.

The other, equally thus far "Untitled" is of the wave after it has spent its force on the beach and there is just a general turmoil of foam and waves going in all directions. Actually I might call this second one "Turmoil". But let's wait and see. I prefer the titles to evolve naturally. This work is 20 x 20 cm also acrylic on canvas.

"Hokusai's Wave"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Lotus - The Jewel

At the Lancaster Meditation Group meeting last Monday I was explaining the role of the lotus blossom in our tradition. I explained how these flowers are usually found in brackish water. The root grows from the mud at the bottom and the stem grows up through the dark muddy water climbing towards the light and blooming in the glory of the day on the surface before sending its seeds back to the muddy bottom to begin the cycle all over again.
The lotus blossom shines in the glory of its existence, transitory though it may be.
But we don't have to travel far and wide to see other "lotuses".

I was struck by this recently when I saw the clear blue sky reflected in a muddy pool in the middle of a cart track in the Lake District. It was like a sapphire amongst all that grey.

As I've mentioned in previous postings this has been one of the wettest summers I can remember. I feel tempted to add, "and the most miserable." But no, while it would be nice to wake up to wall-to-wall sunshine and not oppressive grey clouds, even in all this greyness there are flashes of real beauty which inspire. The sun struggles to break through the clouds and its light is reflected in the puddles in the gutter like a jewel glinting in the mud.

All we have to do is really see it. The image is fleeting. A flash of light reflected in a puddle. Then it is erased as another set of car tyres splash through and cascades thousands of droplets, each reflecting that light.

Pity about those muddy droplets landing on my white shorts. But then thats life for you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Went for a Walk

Thought I'd take a day off from the Studio today and take a walk. Being over that certain age I have my bus pass and one thing Uncle Gordon did get right was to introduce nationwide bus passes which means I can go anywhere (in England) for free. So I got on the Peston bus as far as Galgate, a smallish village some six miles south of Lancaster. From Galgate I walked back along the canal towpath back to our fair city. The weather was threatening rain but I thought, what the 'eck, I'm not made of sugar, I won't melt. I took a waterproof anyway which turned out as not needed. A stiff breeze was blowing in across the Bay sending clouds and patches of blue sky scurrying overhead. At least the wind was warm. But with all the rain we've been having lately there was as much water standing on the towpath as in t' canal proper. Now I've been wearing sandals all the time since I last got back from Cyprus and anticipating a waterlogged walk I opted for my old pair which are just about dropping off my feet now. Actually it was so muddy I walked barefoot most of the way and only put sandals on for the gravelly bits.
Its quite pleasant slodging barefoot through mud and water and it was surprisingly warm too.
It has been a nice day. Must do it more often.

Footnote to all this rain. I saw in The Observer today an article about "Tinder dry Britain", what planet are they on? Or is it me on another planet?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

End of the Show.

The summer show at Arteria Gallery in Lancaster ended to-day so I called there to collect my work and was pleasantly surprised they had it all packed up ready for me. It only remained for me to phone my other half to bring the car round and we take the stuff back to the studio.
We arrived at the studio to find the place had been broken into. Other artists were there and after I had unloaded my stuff we set to looking around to see if anything had been stolen. A camera, a bottle of Ouzo, two duvets and a rug have been taken. The thieves had also availed themselves of the pantry and fridge along with some cigars belonging to one of our artists. They did leave a visiting card, second-hand syringes. We decided not to touch anything and dialled 999. The police arrived in pretty short order and immediately set to with one officer donning a white paper boiler suit and gloves then examining the evidence. Another set about investigating how the thieves got in and of course we had to answer the routine questions. They were very thorough and efficient and not overly officious. Ten out of ten to the police I say.
My own space had been left untouched I was relieved to learn. But we did deduce the method of entry.
The entire premises has state of the art deadlocks as recommended by crime prevention but the system had one flaw. The letterbox is wide enough to allow a would-be intruder to reach through and operate the lock an gain access. Needless to say we have now secured the letterbox in no uncertain manner. The other failure was the burglar alarm. It never went off. Turns out the developing contractors next door had inadvertently severed the cable. The word "developer" is a swear word in Lancaster. They turn our city upside down then clear off leaving us with an expensive building that no-one can really afford to live in.
And just to put a finishing touch to our day, it has p***ed down all day and one of the skylights has sprung a leak.
But it isn't all bad, my wife did me a lovely meal to come home to. Also I have in the last few days got two definite exhibition bookings; one in Morecambe in October and another in Lancaster in the New Year and a possible re-booking at Arteria next summer.
"Und Morgens wird der Sonne wieder scheinen" as Max Schiller's poem says. Tomorrow the sun will shine again.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Where have I been?

Its amazing how time moves on. I haven't realised just how long its been since I put up a posting, nearly three weeks. So what have I been up to since the house got painted?
Well, I've visited family in Brum and in Wales and yesterday visited daughter "crazy" Cath at her holiday caravan. She went abroad this time, in Lancashire terminology, - to Yorkshire!

I've been making art as ever and have now moved back to painting/drawing sea pictures again but taking a slightly different approach. There is a largish body of work featuring the beach and breakers, - views looking out to sea and it was time to stand back and take a look at what I am doing. The stepping back was doing some of the Hellenic/Mythical figures which I have featured earlier. In them I have been exploring other techniques and ways if expressing the image. Now I am thinking along the lines of having the centre of the picture in sharp focus and possibly in full colour too and the periphery faded somewhat. A bit like a soft focus photo like what you see in wedding pictures I suppose.

This one is called "LAND'S END" as that is where the image was taken from. An arm of rock projects into a protesting sea. That sea has travelled unopposed all the way from New York and lands here on the rocky Cornish Coast. No wonder the waves are big.
It took me best part of a week to make this piece. Its pretty big at A1 size (84 x 60 cm). While I was making this piece I had my studio stereo blasting the Albert Hall organ into my ears via earphones. Wayne Marshal playing Messian at the Proms , "Eh? Pardon? You'll have to speak up, got tinnitus now!!"

This one is called LOW TIDE worked from a sketch I did quite some time ago and featured in The Draughtsman in December last year. It is 50 cm square and painted just as noisily, Mozart Requiem I seem to remember.

And finally, this drawing of a delapidated goat shed on Corfu, worked from a sketch from four or so years ago. This is 35 cm tall by 25 cm wide. I had Choral Evensong on Radio3 blowing my eardrums out at the time. A Bruckner chorale followed by Bach's prelude and fugue BWV 375 nicknamed "Bach riding his BMW" and it isn't called that for nothing.