So after 23 years I open a can of oil paint and start painting. First thought is why did it take so long. Is far nicer to work with than acrylic and whereas I appreciate the quick-drying facility that allows rapid over-painting there something too dry about acrylic.
Early days but have started over-painting a couple of series from last year that failed to convince me or the public. Most interesting thing is I started to work in references to previous drawing research and cartooning in a roundabout way.
Here the drawing from Nottingham Open two years ago it links directly to painting above.
I also connecting that with my early 1980’s decorative and aboriginal art influenced work. I do not feel the pressure of the career break any more and actually feel like this could be a career for possibly the first time ever. I have never been a part-time painter and I shall give it a good go for the next year and see what happens.
‘Moon Over The Downs’ oil on canvas 5′ x 5′ un-stretched canvas. 1993
In January 1993 things were pretty much as usual. I was still officially unemployed.
I received a ‘commission’ from my friend Pete Astor who was at that time living in Walthamstow with Sukie Smith. This was £150 for materials to paint a large canvas for their living room. It was a great boost after a bad year and I soon spent the money on oil paints and painted out my dad’s unused garage as a studio which was quite good.
The paintings below came from that brief period before I moved to London to be with Ana Fortun who I met on 3rd March 1993 at a friend’s birthday party. I gave the large barn canvas above to Ana when we parted 7 years later but do not have an image of Pete’s canvas sadly and I am not sure if it survived.
The rest of the paintings were ‘saved’ by Laura Stenhouse, an artist friend, who a year later picked them up to stop them getting damaged in the garage when I moved to Edinburgh. I know the Kew Gardens canvas went to Laura who sadly passed away a few years back. Her husband Bob Lindsay-Smith still has this painting I believe.
Kew Gardens 0il on canvas 24” x 36”
And this from same batch but painted over.. all dated January- March 1993
I was reading a review of my friend Pete Astor’s new album ‘Spilt Milk‘ on Fortuna Pop..sounds great I have to wait until birthday for my vinyl copy. I have the Mr Music 7″ and both covers excellent by artist Matthew Sawyer.
Anyway I digress. In the review the reviewer said Pete had had a Mike Yarwood moment after years of trying out various ‘disguises’ he had returned to Richard Hell/Velvets jangly indie popdom and it suited him. Well as I same age and had my share of ‘guises’ I beginning to feel same about painting and drawing.
Confronted by a wall of blank canvases ( coincidentally the name of this blog 🙂 I return to square one too…
I looked out my old Degree thesis ( yes I still have it and my essays as marked by John A. Walker and Bette Spectorov). Which was on Howard Hodgkin who my biggest influence at Hornsey. It wasn’t a great thesis ..I left it too late to do a good job and it blew my chance of a first :-(.
Here a largish painting in oil on board from 1979 I think I can see there traces of mark-making, Hoyland and John Walker who big at time and Howard Hodgkin in use of colour and form.
I am deliberately starting slow and small this time as last year’s paintings tended in opposite direction. I also going to move away from total abstraction and painting over the ‘1977’ series from last year which just didn’t work.
The location is the lovely house of my old friends the Hitchmen. I look forward to welcoming people to the front room which will be 80s themed with music from that era as that what I listening to when painting the pictures :-).
Indeed the series of new abstracts take the Creation Record sleeves art of the mid 1980s as their starting point. Series are then titled 1977, 1985, etc…
Record Sleeve for Creation Records 1985 more here:
Documented experiences of the second wind go back at least 100 years, when it was taken to be a commonly held fact of exercise.The phenomenon has come to be used as a metaphor for continuing on with renewed energy past the point thought to be one’s prime, whether in other sports, careers, or life in general.
Thanks to my fellow studio ‘inmate’ Zenon I being provided with plenty of background reading. Today’s tome ‘What is Abstraction’ by Andrew Benjamin (1996). Interesting but very philosophically dense read which really only gets going when he responds to W. J. Mitchell’s attack on Greenburg. Good overview of Greenburg’s near total dominance of the field and some interesting painters at end..David Reed and Jonathan Lasker included which, as it 1996, confirms that I missed at least ten years of abstract painting and theory maybe more.
I also picked up on an excellent short article on the Diebenkorn show at R.A. by Ian McKeever which chimed very well with Benjamin’s observations.
It is only now that I made the connection between music and painting…which some 30 years too late as the cover to ‘She Comes From the Rain’ effortlessly did this in 1985. As I trying to be in studio actually painting as much as possible..as opposed to thinking about it..I been building soundtracks for my painting. Today I looked back at 1980 and took the above corresponding sounds for this week..last week it was 1977.
Fascinating to look back at 1980 as it was second year of my degree at Hornsey and I was drumming (allegedly) for art school band ‘Damp Jungle’ then. Music seemed pretty exciting that year with Teardrop Explodes, Birthday Party and Orange Juice all issuing seminal 45s :-).