Friday, 17 November 2017

Sooty And The Mexicans

Some of my  Mexican students came for a tour last week. I did think about showing them my painting 'Offrenda' (you can see it on my PRINTS FOR SALE page) as it was inspired by their Day of the Dead culture, but in the end I chickened out.
I had previously  used the hand puppets Sooty and his friends to represent my parents and eldest brother  in the painting 'Duet'.  They lived in the same area as Harry and Marjorie Corbett and their son Matthew, who were the manipulators of the T.V. characters in the 1950s. The Corbetts also seemed to have the same dependency on each other as my family had.
After my mother died, I used the same puppets again to represent various members of the family in the painting 'Offrenda', making them  appear slightly skull- like.
Who in Mexico would have heard of Sooty? I think the group enjoyed their tour anyway, with one student describing it as 'beyond amazing'.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Like A Kaleidoscope

I knew I had one in the loft but could I heck as find it.
 I had some Chinese visitors coming for one of my tours and I wanted to show them what a kaleidoscope was, as I felt it would better explain my ideas for the painting.
'Grand Tours' is a picture I made in 1992 to celebrate five journeys with five members of my immediate family.
 I wanted to make the point  that a journey is like a kaleidoscope, with each new twist and turn, everything changes. I even used a kaleidoscope lens in the preparatory stages of the design , to make the images appear glimpsed at, rather than too clear. You can see the painting on my website on one of the PRINTS FOR SALE pages.
I did manage to buy another kaleidoscope before my guests arrived  and hopefully it helped.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Trapped In Time

I've just been to the Jasper Johns exhibition and was  interested in the paintings where he had used encaustic wax on the surface. He was influenced by the Romans who used it on their mummy portraits of Faiyum.
The process is described as 'hot when you apply it but dry's to an oily sheen'.
I have used it on several of my paintings, where I wanted to give the impression that the image was trapped in time.
I used a thin membrane of encaustic wax between two images in my painting 'Tea for 222' because I wanted to show what had happened in the past while simultaneously  displaying  the present.
Two great aunts had led exciting lives during the 2nd world war - one we believed had worked at Bletchley Park while the other had poised naked in the Windmill Theatre.
Whilst I used numbers (to represent code breaking machines and telephones)  in  the  bottom layer, the top surface was painted with a typical English afternoon tea to symbolise the Aunt's respectable old age.
The wax helps to show both images at the same time.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Chalk And Cheese

'Chalk and Cheese' - everyone thought it was a terrible title for an art exhibition but I felt the right sentiment was there.
I am going to be one half of a two man exhibition at the Babylon Gallery, Ely in March next year and we are beginning to make tentative arrangements.
Francis Jeans (the other artist) also works on canvas with oil paint but always from direct observation and on location, no matter how difficult the circumstances. I always work in my cosy studio, usually sitting down at my easel.
Whereas he seems to work everything out in his head, I have to have lots of props around me with sketchbook drawings and preliminary paintings to support my ideas.
We are going to have further discussions about the name of the show soon and I'll let you know, when we have a result.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Object As Actor

I've just been to a fascinating exhibition at the Royal Academy entitled 'Matisse in the studio'.
The theme of the show was how the artist used objects in his paintings. So, as well as seeing the paintings we also saw the objects which Matisse had acquired over a number of years and used  over and over again in his work.
He saw his objects as actors and the studio as the theatre.
I won't try to compare myself with Matisse(!) but I also use objects  in my paintings and visitors get to see them when they come for a tour of my pop-up gallery.
An example of this would be the marionette, Mr Turnip - a replica of which I had specially made and used in several of my paintings. The puppet was originally built for a 1950's children's TV programme and always fascinated me as a child.
You can see the paintings (and preliminary drawings) on my PRINTS FOR SALE page in my website. Click on the image to make it bigger
Mr Turnip appears in 'Diamonds', 'The Enigma of the Chinese Mask' and '3001', though you will have to look very hard to see him in the last one as he is laid horizontally across the picture.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Give And Take

When is an auction not an auction? When it's a raffle.
We were asked if we had anything to donate to a charity dance, recently. I had understood that it was going to be an auction so I offered one of my preliminary canvases as they have always gone for a reasonable price at other similar events.
I then heard it was going to be a raffle - quite a different affair. With an auction one has to believe someone really wants the item they are bidding for. With a raffle one might be disappointed with my little canvas as a prize and would have preferred a bottle of wine.
I'm afraid I asked for my canvas back. You can still buy it from my website (click from the
 NEWS AND REVIEWS page) and make a donation to your favourite charity.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Knife Attack

I haven't used a palette knife for painting since I did some ghastly work about fifty years ago. Of course, I always use a knife for mixing the colours and stripping them off  at the end of a painting session.
However, I decided that my painting 'Forget-Me-Nots' needed  more savage handling in certain areas of the canvas, as all the objects seemed too neat and fitted correctly into their own shape. As the painting is about dementia and memory loss I wanted to create the feeling that everything was slightly out of control and not as it should be.
Although it's not finished, you can see the results so far on the NEWS AND REVIEWS page of my website.
Or better still, book a visit to my pop-up gallery, where you can see the painting for real.