For various reasons I’ve been rooting out antient works of bygone times in my painting history and thought these four, though not in any way worthy of Gallery status, had a certain interest.
The first one is the first painting I ever painted. It was copied from a vertical air photograph – quite a famous one I subsequently learnt – of some olive terraces in Tunisia. I’ll look up in my catalogue what I wrote about it at the time (2003) and insert new information here if relevant.
This is the entry in my catalogue of works:
‘1/02 19-21 August 325 x 210 Watercolour on paper: ‘Olive landscape’
My very first attempt in adulthood to paint, attempting in effect to copy a striking vertical air photograph published in the Air France house magazine (no. 61, Mai 2002, 66-67, ‘Plantations d’Oliviers, gouvernorat de Zaghouan’ (in NE Tunisia), by Yann Arthus-Bertrand; original torn out and kept). It was the pattern and the colour that caught my eye rather than the subject as such. This was actually quite an ambitious work to choose as starters, and of course it doesn’t work artistically – for one thing, it was way beyond my technical competence. It was nevertheless a useful test-piece. Whatever its artistic qualities (nil), I was nevertheless thrilled at the totally unexpected discovery that, up to a point anyway, ‘I could paint’. It served as an introduction from which I began a steep learning curve.
By chance, I subsequently (27. 12. 04, a Xmas present from Brigid) re-located the photograph of which this painting was a poor copy: in Yann Arthus-Bertrand, La Terre vue du Ciel, Éditions de La Martinière, Paris 2004, last plate entitled ‘Nouvelles plantations d’oliviers, gouvernorat de Zaghouan, Tunisie.’’
The next, painted about ten years ago when I was working in Bethlehem and the West Bank, is not a good painting but, a rare ‘political’ one, it expressed my feelings about the new Israeli settlements marching illegally across the landscape on the tops of the bare hills of the West Bank. Anyone who has been there will recognise immediately what I mean. The conceit I gave this metaphorical view was to show the windows of the new concrete buildings as horizontal slits to make evil-looking faces on the walls.
The next one, a small painting entirely in grey, black and white, was based on a very colourful coast I looked out on from high on the battlements of the Spanish fort in Santiago, Cuba. It was the verticality of the cliff diving into the sea, rather than any colour, which caught my eye; and I liked the way the cliff-face facing me was in deep shadow; but otherwise it is an inconsequential little work shown here with a poor photograph which I shall retake.
This is another poor image, but this time showing why I don’t do still-lifes. It is nevertheless rare as a Fowler still-life – I think I’ve only done one or two others and, as I’m sure you would agree, dear Reader, would be well-advised to keep it that way.