I found this Andrew Wyeth quote in one of his books many years ago and it resonated with me as it seemed to apply to me in some way. "In art, as in life, artists can be awkward and difficult. They can be maddeningly secretive,so much so, that at times they become the sole worshippers in their own cult "
For many years ,my partner Mary has supported my insularity and introspection and has facilitated the thousands of hours that I have spent selfishly painting in my own world... I love her and thank her for everything ..
They were exciting times and I had clients from Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues and 10 cc. Dates me a bit. Jackie Collins bought 12 paintings on the pavement outside the Portal as I was delivering a new Show! We were taken to and promoted at Art Expo New York showcasing paintings and...
Since I started painting I have always used the best - and expensive - sable watercolour brushes. They just seem to act better like the difference between a Ferrari and a Morris Minor.Being nerdy I have never thrown a brush away much to the amusement of schoolchildren that have visited my studio. I counted them for this blog and I now have 1750 worn out old friends-a few hours there then !
I also have always exclusively used Liquitex acrylic paint , expensive but wonderful for their range of colours whether opaque or translucent and buttery soft feel. I have 12 different blues and 14...
I have had in my library since the 70’s a book called ' The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings '. Full of wonderful black and white photographs of Watermills, Railway Sheds, Oast Houses, Maltings, Windmills, Textile Factories, Docks etc,etc. A source of inspiration and reference for many paintings throughout my career.
Buildings belonging to this tradition derive their artistic character directly from the way the challenge of function is met. Their forthrightness and simplicity,with an emphasis on the basic geometry of architecture rather than the ritual of historic...
I have long been taken with the Quilts of the Amish. I always thought that their wonderful quilts were like abstract paintings and I embarked on a series of large square paintings inspired by the work. Using masking tape for hard edges and multiple glazes I am attempting to reach an evocation and homage to their designs.
A recent visit to the American Museum and their bookshop brought a surprise in a book called ' Fundamentally Abstract '. This is a publication to accompany exhibitions of the Amish quilt collection of Faith and Steven Brown.
To my amazement the whole thrust of the book...
I have recently passed the milestone of my 1000th painting. Luckily I have photographed and recorded all my paintings since day one, advice I have given many young artists to follow. On reflection and interestingly, the words that come to mind are motivation, application and productivity before creativity and inspiration, all of which are needed to enable an artist to go the distance ! The writer Hilary Mantel, when asked 'do you write every day or do you wait for inspiration to come along ? replied ' What do you think I am, some kind of hobbyist?' I like this.
The production of a body of...
The late Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention sang "Who knows where the time goes ".
It is not good getting old but luckily artists ,musicians, actors and the the like never retire and work happily on all their lives. As I near 80 I have been troubled by Ocular Migraine , maybe as a result of thousands of hours using tiny sable brushes. Not as bad as it sounds and I get to see The Northern Lights .
I have been very lucky with my gallery relationships and I thank them all. Artists need galleries and vice versa and it should always be a collaboration of trust and friendship. It is easy when things go well to be swept along in the excitement but this can result in burnout, but it is a nice problem to have. This happened to me many years ago but it was never creative buffers it was just the treadmill.
I have never run out of ideas and looking through my journals never will. How about 30 paintings on the history of flight ?
I have always wondered how artists can flit from medium to medium or genre to genre. I would have thought it a lifetimes work to learn to watercolour never mind use oils ! I have dabbled in watercolours perhaps seduced by the facility to make paintings quickly but it always seemed unsatisfactory to me. I recently came across a statement by Maggie Hambling "particular, be particular. Generalisation is always the enemy of art " Seems to sum up my feelings too !
In my lighthouse journey I have come across many wonderful quotations that I would like to share with you from time to time. The lighthouse was a motif that fascinated Hopper ,it is a fitting emblem for an artist obsessed with light and shadow. It is of course a well known symbol for loneliness. Hopper's wife Josephine even wrote of her husband "Those lighthouses are self portraits ! " Hopper Exhibition Catalogue.
"At the foot of the lighthouse is found only darkness " Spanish proverb
Four giant lighthouses protected mariners from the treacherous sand islands and the Diamond Shoals where the North South Gulf Stream clashed with the South North Labrador Current,an area known as the graveyard of the Atlantic. High enough at 200 feet their lanterns...
Over the years when I come across statements, truths ,opinions etc. that resonate with me I write them down in my journals. Some are attributable, some I don't know where they came from so thanks to those that wrote the original words . "Develop an infallible technique and put yourself at the mercy of inspiration '
This remains a mantra for me. I still find flaws and imperfections in my technique and the desire to improve is still strong but Infallibility is always out of reach, inspiration on the other hand is an elusive partner that cannot be bidden or controlled.
I have always been reluctant to go into art galleries for fear of being unduly influenced. I know that if I was overwhelmed by a wonderful painting it would lodge in my psyche and sooner or later it would subconsciously appear in my work. There have been very few true innovators in the history of art .
Andrew Wyeth, Botero, Henri Rousseau, Hopper and Rothko are favourites of mine The painting with this piece is called 'Rothko Sky " and perhaps illustrates my point.
The biggest influence on me ,1000 paintings ago, was a new neighbour and then close friend , Mike Dempsey. He painted "naive"...
For the professional artist, finish, presentation and framing is very important. When prospective purchasers view a painting on the gallery wall they need to be comfortable with the product as a whole after being drawn by the image.
I work in acrylic and for some years have used ready made, fine textured linen canvasses that come already primed. This fine texture provides a surface that can give a hard edge when needed and the fine tooth is very helpful for the graduation of colour i.e. in skies. When the painting is finished I spray with about 4 light coats of matt acrylic varnish which...
Galanthus Galas are held each February to which aficionados flock, scrambling to buy new and rare snowdrops at surprising prices - new collectable specimens can fetch £150. This painting hopes to capture some of the frisson and excitement of the Galanthophila Gala.
In the American western homestead era some 5 million Federally encouraged immigrant settlers subsistence farmed on 160 acre parcels of land given to them by Government Statute. To educate their children, tens of thousands of one room schoolhouses were built about three miles apart in walking distance dotting the prairies.
With the great depression coinciding with the dustbowl years of no rainfall, the homesteads proved to be unfarmable and were abandoned. By the early 50's the 5 million were driven from their farms by circumstance and the bankers. Nothing changes!
A scattering of...
What do we see when we look at paintings ? What unknown chemistry is in the image that draws the viewer across the room to look more closely ? If we could only bottle it and bring it out more often . Quite often my least favourite painting is the first to sell at a show and I end up with my favourites unsold. Harvest Headland, one of my limited editions , outsells all other images by a factor of at least 10 . If anybody knows why this is please let me know…