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.
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 :-).
Well I finally made it back to painting in what must be the most convoluted way possible. To start painting again don’t go via my route. Seven years teaching web design in academia, a fine art M.A. in art research (through drawing) then a abandoned attempt to do a Creative Writing M.A. Oh and then two months sorting out what the hell I was doing in painting in the first place (the Archive)
All of this so that I finally can go into the studio in mid-March 2015 and stare at a blank wall and wonder what the hell it all about….
It seems like a very long way round to arrive back where I started. I studied fine art painting at Hornsey College of Art in 1978-1981. My first love was painting not poetry or songwriting. I was ‘good at art’ at school. I was offered a place at the Royal College in 1981 on painting M.A. which was my dream. I wanted to be the new David Hockney….I almost did it but Margaret Thatcher took away the grant funding and my working-class parents could not afford the £9K, even then, fees.
I have always despised the Tories ever since. I ploughed on and re-applied to the Royal in 1985 (see this post in archive). this application was the high water mark of my early abstraction. I never got back to this level until today. It has taken 30 years to be able to paint full time if only for a couple of months. I am not a part-time painter.
The paintings in the posts above are my finding my way again after all this time. I naively aimed to be the best painter in England between 1981 and 1985……right now I’m just happy to get a second chance. I was however always a serious abstract painter…and that I remain. I dedicate these paintings to my Father who would have been 83 last Monday. I call these paintings ‘second wind’ for an explanation see poem here:
Back in the studio on a beautiful sunny day. Painted over the ‘Suit of Nettles’ “illustrations” after photographing them so I can create a single print of that work. So I have 12 x 2 feet square canvases to work on.
I also tried out a small box of chalk coloured soft pastels and this produced the three drawings above. The titles random or joking for instance ‘Welbeck’s Revenge’ celebrates the Arsenal’s win over Man U and no I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Gray and never will.
A good start and I hope I keep momentum up until Lady Bay show on 16th/17th May (and F.A. cup final 30th May :-). Last year’s Lady Bay was unforgettable as we came from behind to beat Hull:-)