Daubers Trip Feb 2017

So for me it seems everything needs a reason to be, a reason to do.

Although the time away from the studio unsettles me, I allow myself ‘painting holidays’, but I still angst about them being a ‘waste of my time’.

But looking at my Tenby attempts to respond to all that sea and sand, although they didn’t capture the seagulls, the warm breeze and sun as I sat on cold morning sand they did make me think of colour. They made me look. They made me look at colour and learn. And while learning their can be no angst there. That is not a waste of my time.

So when we daubers meet for another painting holiday, when they come up to Wales to paint landscape in 2 degrees and a northern friend, the lazy wind, blows from the north east, from Yorkshire, I decided I want to paint ‘my figures’.

I knew if I was going to start the sculpture for my 25 Year Show next month I needed to immerse myself in form. As discovered in the life drawing class on the monday, an elbow, a thy could be my landscape.

So we painted and ate and talked, and painted and ate and talked…it goes like this. The rhythm. Its really very good. The daubers left, having commitments in Bristol and I remained cramped over my little table, the fire crackled and the dog snored and as the eastern breeze took hold, bringing white snow and sleet, here was my opportunity to play with colours. All over the place was colour. Yellows from Barcelona, oranges from Loas and this blue green that seem to come from nowhere.

Then, out on my bike, the white winter sun exposed blue and purple hills and I realised that the landscape is the colour. Llanigon Green at home out the window and on my bike ride, Herefordshire Blue, Whitney White on the bridge over the river Wye who was the deepest dark blue purple.

So yes to looking, yes to walking, even yes to painting holidays, and yes to Laos because they all appear in my work. And most of all I need to chill out about it, as Graham says, ‘it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t give yourself a hard time about it!’

 

SaveSave

Land and Leaves

In Barcelona I painted this painting

“A moment caught between the noise. I see my ‘Family Tree’ painting and realise its not a family tree at all its just about parents and me. The orange pair of leaves is them, as strong and intense in colour as the land. But I am a leaf. They are leaves.”

The other leaves represented sisters and friends, support. But in orange there has always been the land and there has always been my parents.

And leaves have their time and then they are returned to the earth.

 

SaveSave

Time and colour

Thursday night – Byard Art solo show private view in Cambridge and the fantastic Pint Shop, Friday night – negotiate tall corridors of dark container streets to the red lit gin bar serving buckets of lethal ice in Barcelona.

Seven days – a sociable time with girlfriends, spent talking, my head filled with chat and restaurants and drinking and tapas and leisure and hangovers and late nights and fireworks, the thrill of being back that made me smile without realising, swimming in the sea, the towns freedom and the weird familiarity of it, then a promise of returning to sobriety brought thursday’s welcome home beers with Graham and then friday’s private view and roof top terrace of really many too many caves till really very too close to dawn.

All this has left me blank, open, like a clean fresh page.
I left as a vessel of anxiety and return empty.

As a workaholic I don’t need these times, they are interrupting, take too long to get over, disrupt the flow. Other peoples talk fills the precious space in your brain you need for work. Work is everything so you bare the loneliness because it enables you to think, to work.
But time with friends unravels you.

The twisted knot of excitement caused by solo shows, orders, demands and deadlines.  It dissipates. I am now blank but the blankness enables the important things to come in clean and clear. Only now in the quite of these hills I can see it was a good thing. The valley is still, the sun is warm for nearly october, only the occasional clatter of leaves dropping through trees gives a hint of the time of year.

Prompted by an article about Howard Hodgkin I think of paint and colour. Like a conversation that has, through the years, been getting louder, so painting is the thing that bounces in first to the flat open space of a rested mind.

I yearn for painting, it’s like somethings lost. I can not be so dramatic to say it can equal the pain of childlessness but I have no other context in which to put it. I don’t think it can be pain I feel when I look at colour but it feels similar.

I sit in the hills and stare at the magic of the olchon valley to my right, a blue light rests in its belly. In front, the Black Hill creates our valley so I feel at the edge of a basin, the light moves across this space so drastically that it could be a different painting every five minutes.

All I can do is sit and stare and yearn. When I turn my eyes to write I can still see the valley as the birds map out the contours with their chatter. Sheep and geese are white dots in the green, ridiculously I envy them, as all they will know is this valley.

I yearn because we will have to leave here before too long and I yearn because I don’t know what to do with all that beauty. I photograph it endlessly but it is not enough, the photographs are just a cruel tease to what could be.

Its like painting is in the other room, at the moment the door is half agar and there is so much fantastic stuff in this room that I can’t get through to the other.

This beauty, this colour, this thought process has left me exposed and when a butterfly lands on the table open on the Hodgkins article I see it as a sign or cruel but beautiful taunt.  It faces me, rests a moment, wings open, reds, oranges and browns and water floods over my vision, its too much.

In far vision red kite is circling looking for supper.

As an artist you need strength. As an artist you need the strength to ignore, close the door on the business to be able to work. But can you close the door on yourself, can I give myself that chance, that 3 months or so just to paint, to not think about anything else, to run around the studio free in colour, the power of colour is frightening.

The language of sculpture developed over 20 years is reassuring, it still excits me but its just the practicalities that are so mind numbingly time sapping. Painting is creative all the time, no repetition, no compromise.

But today I only have today and I write and I think about what can be and as the sun gets lower I take photographs in the vain hope, in the way we make jam, that in mid winter I can open up the jar to the strong taste of late summer.

Simple

I know I need to get on with the business of the day but thinking of Barcelona last night, out of instinct I soaked white beans and this morning boil them for breakfast, while still warm coat in an intense garlic, lemon, chilli and parsley dressing to have with ripe chopped tomatoes and peppery rocket from the severn project .

Simple, pure and intense.

As it was then and hopefully will be again.*

As Miro said “for me to gain freedom is to gain simplicity”

“Keep it simple silly” … Grahams words when we first met which I seem to have developed into a catchphrase for him as he has the ability to cut through to the truth, I think of it like chess, he can see the quickest simplest path. For someone who has to walk down all the paths just to see, I think after a bit of said meandering I finally found the right man!

*2 more shows and then hopefully by January I will be able to give self that time again to move this work on.