Every year, for the past decade and more, I have ‘retreated’ to north Norfolk in July to work in the studio of Michael Horn. His is not a well-known name in the artistic world nationally but, nevertheless, he paints deeply, increasingly exhibits to general acclaim, and has taught art throughout his professional life. Luckily for me, I fell under his spell at Mary Ward College, Queen Square, London, early in my attempts to paint, and while our relationship remains essentially that of ‘master’ and ‘pupil’ in artistic matters, we have become good friends and can paint happily for hours as colleagues at either end of his splendid studio to the strains of traditional jazz and classical music. This is why I have not attended to this site for ten days: I have been absorbed in Michael’s world of paint and good food – in the preparation of which he is also an artist.
We went to three different places to draw – something I am very weak at doing. We were rained off at all three but nevertheless acquired good material. One scene, involving of all things in rural north Norfolk, a small monumental arch and a grass-cut maze, I pursued from field sketch through five versions to finished studio painting.
In the studio, where perforce we spent most of the time because of the weather, I worked on another project the other way round by drawing in excruciating detail the view of the studio from my easel through five versions through to an exhibit-worthy abstract painting (subsequently over-painted; the image shown here is a detail of the third stage during painting, looking towards the studio door on the left and at one of Michael’s large paintings centre and on the right).
These are excellent exercises for me, though don’t tell Michael, since in the normal course of events I have neither the discipline nor time to do such. Anyway, I came away clutching some 15 or so ‘works’ in my folder but, far more importantly, a little wiser and possibly a little more accomplished in matters painterly. Thank you, Michael.