Friday, August 28, 2015

Man and Sign

I'm going to treat this as a colour study, and get on with some charcoal versions where I can start to make changes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Man and Sign - still in progress

I'm going to work on this one, without making any major changes, for a while. Then try some variations with other pictures. A floating woman instead of a sign. Also I want to change the male figure so that he is barefooted, or at least inappropriately dressed for the weather. That's another thing, I want to add more snow.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Man and Sign - in progress

Long way to go. At the moment I'm thinking of replacing the sign with a woman. Also changing the male figure.

Friday, August 21, 2015


I had a good talk with Paul about finishing pictures. Some interesting things that came up;

  • A piece of work is never finished. Paul said he just gets tired of it. I like that because it gives a sense of a slowing-down, or tailing-off of interest/engagement. I like it because that feeling is something that I could become sensitive to, or alert to. I think a lot about things that get me excited and engaged. I feel like I take that seriously. I mean, just that feeling of being excited about something. Not needing or wanting to know why. But I know that that excited response to something is the most important thing, like a compass reading, and I've always looked out for it. Now I'm also going to try to be aware of an opposite diminishing of interest, because that signals something important too. That can also be a way of orientating myself.
  •  In terms of finishing a picture, that loss of engagement could just mean that the approach has gone in the wrong direction. Normally a picture starts off fluid and gradually becomes more fixed and less flexible. Sometimes it's hard to know if a picture needs to be 'messed up', taken back to that early, more flexible stage to get exciting again or if it's just that the slow disconnection that signals the end of a picture is happening. It could be that the sense of disconnection signals something going wrong, rather than the end of something. Anyway, it's something I'm going to keep in mind; that feeling of disconnecting, losing interest.
  • We also talked about how not finishing can be a protective measure. In a way, by never finishing a picture, I 'm saying, you can't criticise this (and by extension, you can't criticise me) because it's not finished. Not finishing as an act of cowardice. 
  • We also talked about what it means to not value a picture (something I do a lot), and I think that's related to that feeling of not valuing yourself. Or, avoiding having to say; For good or bad, this is me. This is my picture. In this sense, not-valuing a picture is the same as not presenting it, or hiding it, or destroying it. Which is similar to not finishing. So, we could say that part of finishing is presenting a piece, showing it. That's interesting to me. That exhibiting, having a relationship with an audience (even an audience of one, but one other), is part of the process of finishing.
  • But I like the idea that a picture is never finished. You just stop at an arbitrary point, but it could always be in flux. I guess one picture can be, usually is, many pictures. All the under paintings. Some good, some bad, some maybe better than the 'finished' picture.

Man and sign. Just started.

Long way to go with this image, but I'm going to show it at different stages.

Charcoal study for new painting.

I really enjoyed working with charcoal again. I've decided to do more charcoal drawings. It always feels like a much more natural medium for me than painting. Much easier to change things. I think it'll be a good way to generate some images that I can later decide if I want to to take into paintings.

New painting.

Well, another attempt at 'The hero burns his wife for fear that she will die of cold' image. I wasn't happy with the last version of this, so this is my new attempt. I don't think it's finished, but I'm going to leave it for now.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Drawing v painting

"I think what we call painting is basically drawing in various media."
Frank Auerbach

Reading this reminded me of something that American sculptor, David Smith said, although I can't quite remember what it was. And got me thinking about the difference between painting and drawing. 
None of these points is strictly true (they can be disproved with counter-examples), but generally;

  • Drawing is provisional, unfinished, not a finished product.
  • Drawing is linear, or has a strong linear element (I'm probably thinking of Auerbach here) Or, is not just tonal.
  • Drawing is less historically fixed to a time or tradition. For example, drawing predates oil painting, tempera, etc. Drawing predates everything. It's the first art.
  • Colour is not foremost in drawing, more focused on black and white
  • Drawing is quick - this ties in with it's linear quality - This speed suggests that it is an approach which can access deeper areas, it has less artifice, or can just create surprise. Philip Guston talked about the long preparation for a few minutes of innocence (something like that). Auerbach says that although he spends a long time working on a painting, most of that time is spent scraping paint off, the final image is made quickly. Freshness, not overworked.
  • Drawing uses the colour of the paper, canvas, base
  • Drawing doesn't achieve levels of realism that painting can. In the same way that a black and white photo is not as real as a colour photo.
Why did this sentence strike a chord with me this morning? I think it's the first one. Drawing is provisional, unfinished, not a finished product. There is also a sense with drawing that it is not so necessarily meant for public viewing. It's more of a private activity. A way to get ideas out to be worked on.