Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Deep(er) in the Woods in More Detail...

With the very minor addition of three or four brushstrokes, presenting the updated ‘finished’ version of the third ‘woodscape’ painting, including a selection of detailed views that more closely exhibit the surface facture of the object.

‘Woodscape #3’  oil on canvas/48″ x 24″/January 2016

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Deep(er) in the Woods

Following yesterday’s post, detailing the small revisions made to the first two ‘woodscape’ paintings, today we present the fruit of what has been the main thrust of creative activity over and since the Yuletide period in the form of a third such painting taking as its visual source a scene from deep within the predominantly pine-wooded environment beyond the rear perimeter of TOoT Towers (working in the conservatory at the back of the property is, obviously, the perfect location for all those instances of necessary empirical visual research that are an essential component of the painting process).

‘Woodscape #3’
oil on canvas/48″ x 24″/December 2016 – January 2017

‘Resolved’ (whether suitably/satisfactorily enough only time spent looking and considering will reveal), the painting continues in the manner of that pair preceding it and reveals explicitly its facture, the overt structure of horizontal and vertical brushstrokes, and the materiality of the paint and its mostly wet-into-wet application in the service of both the painting-as-object (transitional object) and the represented embodied experience of being present within the woods, treading upon the carpet of pine needles and moss and being confronted by the sheer verticality of the tree trunks and evidence of their foliage between and beyond. What one finds is that communicating this experience in paint becomes more and more complex and difficult each time one returns to the easel to represent the subject matter, more hermetic for want of a better word (and Cubism and C├ęzanne are never very far away, either) as, perhaps, this painting appears.

Outside of the world of the painting, but a valuable part of the process of its making, I must make mention of a couple of the elements of the accompanying musical soundtrack – Tom Waits‘Mule Variations’, which sounded particular wonderful this last Sunday afternoon, and the long-overdue discovery of Can, oft-cited as an influence upon a number of artists whose work has proved to be an enduring favourite (not least early Public Image Ltd) but, especially absurdly it seems in the event, who had remained unexplored until recently, intriguing stuff and suitable grist to the painting mill.

Monday, January 09, 2017

New Year Evolutions...

Both the pair of recent woodscape paintings have recently undergone a little re-working after having been lived-with and critically considered, making what were the brightest green vertical strips a little less so whilst still functioning as the visual passage ‘through’ the constructed ‘tactile’ surface space…

‘Woodscape #1’ oil on canvas/48″ x 24″/2016

‘Woodscape #2’ oil on canvas/48″ x 24″/2016

A third in the sequence is current in progress, possibly nearing resolution or possibly not…

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Blank Decorations...

Awaiting a delivery of some more of the ‘widescreen’ canvases that have proved themselves to be the most appropriate for the current sequence of painterly investigations of yonder woodland (a mere pair having been purchased in the first instance, for the purposes of testing the proposal, and alternatives being unfit for such purpose), it seemed a good idea to fill some of the hiatus by remodelling another batch of pears and then whitewashing them in readiness for the intended further investigation and possible expansion of that particular body of work as was carried out earlier in the year. Here, captured looking in to the conservatory/studio from outside, are the five objects suspended and drip-drying.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Woods Painting #2

‘Woods #2’

oil on canvas/24″ x 48″/December 2016

The current painting brought to some form of resolution (one could keep adding paint indefinitely), as with the previous example concentrating in painterly terms on the horizontals and verticals of the subject matter and achieving an all-over-ness of surface texture.  Again, this ‘tactile space’ acts as a means to suggest the physical experience of being present in the landscape, the richness of the empirical fact(s).



Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Back at the Easel...

Presenting today the early stages of the current work-in-progress, another 4′ x 2′ ‘widescreen’ canvas upon which has been sketched the early stages of a second woodscape composition closely related to its predecessor and of which there is as yet not a great deal else to say.

The work was carried out over the course of Saturday afternoon, this activity to the accompaniment of a selection of the new release from the Moon Wiring Club, celebrating in generously expansive style the 10th anniversary of & comprising, musically, an LP (entitled ‘Exit Pantomime Control’) and triple CD set (‘When a New Trick Comes Out, I Do an Old One’), some of the artwork of which is pictured below (there’s also an A2-sized double-sided poster folded within the CD package, detailing its contents and featuring more of the inimitable illustrations of the sort on show), and a book too (also ‘When a New Trick…’) – a veritable cornucopia of sound and visuals as, indeed, each of the issues from the Blank Workshop and fictional town of Clinkskell are, what have come to be a much-anticipated annual treat after the clocks have gone back and the seasonal gloaming descends and envelops.

As ever, the music is both familiar and strange (more so than usual this time, with remixes and re-imaginings from the substantial archives), accents recur but are subjected to tweaks and new treatments, ghosts rematerialising in fresh guises, moods benign, contemplative and unsettling shift within the continuum – it’s rich fare upon initial encounter that frequent revisiting will reward as we move inexorably from this year into next.

Now – given the seasonal crimp on available painting opportunity (fundamentally, an insistence upon natural light conditions) – when’s the next chance to paint and listen?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The paint is tree and the tree is paint

Following-on from the recent ‘in progress’ report (‘Digesting October…’), today we present the first painting of our local woodland subsequently brought to some form of resolution over the course of Saturday afternoon spent listening to the 2 CDs of ‘The Essential Leonard Cohen’, but a selection in celebration of the work of the songwriter supreme ‘born with the gift of the golden voice’ (at least in the guise of the narrator of the mighty ‘Tower of Song’), whose passing has sadly been announced – many fine words have been written in tribute, not least on the Guardian website on & from Friday, also including Gerry’s on his ‘That’s How The Light Gets In’ blog, another to follow avidly. The recordings left behind, of such exquisitely-crafted & masterfully-performed songs, will resonate down the years, of that there can be no doubt.

‘Woods #1’
oil on canvas/24″ x 48″/October-November 2016
The painting itself, as ‘finished’, probably achieves something of what was intended whilst leaving plenty of scope for development. Formally and, from that, technically it observes the obvious horizontals and verticals of the subject matter and represents a ‘tactile space’, independently as a painting and as analogous to the physical experience of being actively present in the landscape (treading upon the pine needle-covered and mossy ground whilst the tall straight columns of the trees confront as one navigates a path through and tower overhead), treating figure and ground with equal gestural weight in the pursuit of a more integrally ‘overall’ painterly surface where, striving to achieve that balance between facture and image, the means of representation and that represented, ‘the paint is tree and the tree is paint’ to paraphrase either Ivon Hitchens himself or otherwise something that was written about his work (precise memory fails). It must be admitted that, once exposed to (the potential of the influence of), one sees the scene(s) through Hitchens’ compositions, those spatial sequences and intervals across a wider panoramic or ‘cinematic’ format, and this of course inevitably lends itself to a particular aspect of the appearance of the painting, characterised as it is in part by more elongated swiping brushstrokes.






Thursday, November 10, 2016

Passions Overflowing

Featuring today a recent, glorious & irresistible find (& subsequent purchase, thanks to the wonderful A, who came to the rescue & took the decision for me when I couldn’t quite bring myself to ‘invest’ the £20 asking price – which, of course, has proved to be an absolute bargain), from amongst the treasure trove of the second hand bookshelves at Dagfields, that, coincidentally, links nicely to the most recent entry on the Groundhog’s excellent, must-read football ground-visiting blog, a result of the author’s travels having taken him to Berlin.

The object of desire in question is the German-language publication Fussballtempel & is a veritable cornucopia of delights, lavishly illustrated as it is with panoramic photographs of a selection of mostly German football stadia, supplemented with a few Austrian & Swiss examples.

Primarily concerned with the homes of top-level &/or historically noteworthy clubs, a number of the images are naturally of recent developments in stadium design & construction, which to my tastes don’t hold a great deal of aesthetic interest, seeming pretty much similar in their shiny new blandness, lacking that particular visual ‘atmosphere’ that defines the most attractive of the genre, most of which, therefore, are of a certain vintage (we are, of course, incorrigibly nostalgically-prone here at TOoT).

Fortunately, ‘Fussballtempel’ features many such gems, either in the form of the inclusion also of some of the predecessors of the new stadia (unfavourable comparisons between new & old, in favour of the latter, are inevitable, as the reader might imagine) or otherwise the still-current but longer-established grounds of other clubs, not least from the east which, back in the day of the separate entities of East & West Germany, was/were always much our favourite/s, in the shape of the likes of the Dynamos Berlin & Dresden, Lokomotive Leipzig, Carl Zeiss Jena, Hansa Rostock, Sachsenring Zwickau & 1FC Magdeburg to name a selection (all of whom we have collected lapel badges of the crests of, as featured on TOoT over 2013-14, should anyone wish to repair to the archives in order to admire at their leisure).

One particularly notable feature of a number these older German grounds is the striking and individual form of the floodlight pylons, stunning pieces of architectural design & obviously a real signifier within the context of the towns/cities in which the stadia reside. Delight also in the examples of grandstand roof design and the environmental details beyond the immediate confines of the grounds, the examples of civic architecture, the wooded hillsides, the sense of space & of them existing within a space, the landscape, none of which, alas, are visible from inside the new stadia, enclosed as they all are. Enjoyable also is the fact that each of the grounds is pictured whilst a match is actually in progress, bringing them to proper life &, related to this, other details such as those of the crowds of spectators, the very sparseness of some within stadia of obviously significant capacity.

All in all, it’s a fabulous book, to be pored over at leisure & treasured as a part of the ever-burgeoning library.

Here’s a selection of favourite images…

N.B. The tile-topped coffee table, an item of furniture long desired for the household, upon which the book has been photographed was another of our Dagfields finds & essential purchases that day.

Monday, October 31, 2016

October Digested

It’s been a funny old month, October, with the painting progress having slowed still further (not least due to the abandonment of the ‘double black lines’ & flattened cans project, with the next in the series having been scraped-off after a couple of weeks’ work), but not entirely unproductive, with the evidence of a work-in-progress pictured above (with apologies for the blurry-in-places photograph, courtesy of the fading light of the first afternoon following the turning-back of the clocks, which caught us somewhat unawares: it was, after all, only 10 past 4 – disastrous time of year for those of us who paint under natural light conditions).

By way of brief explanation, what is in progress, then, is one of the recently-acquired more widescreen canvases (4′ x 2′), which seemed, after consideration, to be the most appropriate format/scale to explore the potential of the subject matter of the conveniently-situated woods beyond the back garden fence of the grounds of TOoT Towers (ironically a bungalow!). Primarily planted with pine & Japanese larch (an abandoned commercial venture of some years ago), with silver birch interspersed, the woods provide a suitable combination of the vertical & horizontal, & textural & tonal, with which to begin a painterly investigation of various ‘snapshots’ of what is a large site. A few drawings were made of the environment over three summers ago now (so, again, it’s another idea & developmental intention that’s been percolating for a while), & can be viewed on the July & August 2013 archive pages.

Monday, September 26, 2016

(Oil) On the Road

‘Double Black Lines/Double Black Cans’
oil on canvas/40″ x 30″/September 2016

At last, after the intention having percolated for the better part of eight years, a larger scale oil painting (that I’d always felt would be more fitting of the subject matter) of the ‘double black lines’ corrected road markings, with a most appropriately liveried pair of flattened aluminium cans, found gifts indeed, in situ. The ground, representing a tarmacked road surface, and the lines, various stages of Payne’s Grey upon Cadmium Yellows, being thickly textured to suggest the physicality, for all its relatively low relief, of such, whilst the cans are also sketchily painted in order to convey something of the fleeting and fugitive passage of light over their two distinct reflective surface finishes.
However, for all the wait, and the work of art, there’s felt something not quite right about either the whole process or, eventually, the result – not a waste of time, as these things never are, but not perhaps a direction to pursue.