Ignore that last blog – I really have very little to grumble about, particularly on a cold but gloriously sunny Imbolc, February 1st, welcomed by the sheep by lying down and ruminating earlier than usual. They are much enjoying their new field, next door to five RSPB Exmoor ponies ranging free on the Warren as a ‘management tool’ and savagely attacking the shoots of everything. The electric fence keeping the sheep in their field was pushed over by four stags at the weekend near the ponies’ water-trough – oh, it’s all go down here in wild and woolly Suffolk.
Exmoor ponies face the icy north wind backwards on Snape Warren
‘midst all such bucolic excitement, I’ve managed to fit in some quality time in the studio. Here’s a quick round-up of the state of play (with additions up to 11 Feb):
Above, a reminder of the awful original ‘magenta mistake’
Below, same painting after a little adjustment which has not completely destroyed the ‘drama’ of the original while improving, I think, the composition and colour:
Below, is a bog standard Fowler, figurative two-dimensional shapes in this case exemplifying ‘power’ – the church, the motte, the seignurial hall – but in painterly terms not very interesting. I’ve made it more interesting, I think, by overpainting most of it and using another of my favourite techniques by giving the impression that we’re inside a space, here perhaps a yellow room, looking out at fragments of a whole (below right).
Or we could forget all that and just be looking at an abstract of straight-sided shapes. It’s only in acrylic on cardboard so I’ll probably play around with it a bit more – the overall yellow, for example, is not quite right; but nothing is going to make this a particularly good painting so it is not worth much more time.
Later: have decided to ditch this one – it just isn’t worth any more time
Now, to plot the evolution of a painting, hoping that in the end it will turn out to be close to what I am trying to achieve i.e. the opposite of the ‘clunky’ style of the preceding (and many others!).
First, a quick sketch of an imaginary landscape:
This is just a sketch of an idea involving standing stones, a building, a windmill and diagonal lines. In a second sketch (entirely charcoal on the back of the first), it became:
and this in its turn became a new, third sketch with colour:
which was then worked over to produce what I think is a more interesting, cohesive painting:
As a study, this has some merit as a painting, even suggesting, to my eyes, a whiff of one of my heroes, Paul Nash. Now I have to decide whether to leave it, to titivate it some more, or use it as the the basis of a new creation, probably in oils on canvas. Obviously this image can be tidied up quite a bit but I don’t want to loose the spontaneity which has survived four previous version. So far it is of ink, acrylic, charcoal and chalk on cardboard; it is called ‘Communicating landscape.’
Later: without prejudice as to whether or not I work more on the above, I have meanwhile produced another larger painting using the same composition but mark-making in almost monochrome black/grey ink-wash on A1-sized paper:
Now to the problem painting, begun in such hope:
I’ve not only made no progress on this one; I’ve gone backwards. The image on the left is that used in the post of 6 January above; that on the right is the current state of play, after quite a lot of work, mainly in trying the remove the fixative which was meant to hold the charcoal and chalk but actually blobbed it up, with a sheen on top. It’s pretty close now to a state where I abandon it and the idea behind it, but I’ll probably give it one more chance, probably by giving the whole a good hard sandpapering for starters.
Later: I’ve also decided not to try to take this image any further – it’s going nowhere and not worth any further input of time. One further look at it today (11 Feb) and it now looks like this:
And now to the big one which probably can’t stand any more sandpapering. Here it is upright in the studio (right), drying, showing how the use of fixative has had the effect of whitening large tracts of the artwork – and this image is after the use of half a bottle of remover. The overall effect has also been to lessen differences and produce a certain green blandness which is less than fair to both my original and to its original, the English landscape.
I’m not going to give up on this one: far too much thought and painting has gone into it already; and basically, it could be a good painting. So, probably I’ll start repainting it differentially to start trying to bring it back to life and perhaps moving it more into abstract mode rather than stressing its archaeological accuracy. An interesting challenge.
We’re on our way! – two good sessions yesterday and today have, I think and hope, enlivened the painting both overall and in detail. Ten different colours in the brown/green/yellow range have been used so far. It is by no means yet finished but here are two areas of it:
Next session I hope to start some new paintings for I seem to have been living with this collection for some time and its members must be either finished or discarded soon.