The Red Field

It’s amazing how paintings grow change and suggest their own development. I’m the kind of artist who likes to work idea’s out in a sketchbook first then progress it upwards to the size of canvas I will be working on. What I end up with in the finished painting only ever has a passing resemblance to the drawn studies. I know many artists just start a painting, they have an idea, or not, before they put paint on the canvass and they allow the work to flow organically right from the start, but me I need some kind of plan just to get the whole process kickstarted. That’s not to say that I don’t just draw, drawing on any level is one of the most creatively stimulating things you can do in my opinion…it is the foundation of my art practice. Often, even after I’ve started a canvass I will draw from it exploring new ideas but being careful not to dictate too much…in fine art there is no formula no method of ‘you must do it this way’ James Elkins in his book ‘Why art can’t be taught’ advocates the an approach that nurtures, advises and allows the artist the space to explore their own creative path no one is there to hold your hand or show you how to hold a brush or how best to mix paint, they just expect you to do it…failure is almost required as it forces you to open up and go find your own answers whether looking at other artists researching your subject till you a filled with as much information from as many sources as possible whether its landscape or the human condition art is as much an academic subject as it is studio based practice…How lovely it would be to buy a magazine from Tescos that will tell you exactly how to paint abstract, or pretty life-like flowers…art is individual, good bad or indifferent it’s about taking what you have seen and studied and forming an opinion that is communicated visually. In my opinion.

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It’s been awhile…. Again!

So I’ve been reading Kandinsky and his theory that art should portray the inner life of the artist… His thoughts and feelings on subjects that are important to them. Using colour as their voice, and abandoning form to express themselves. He is hailed as one of the most influential artists of his time (for a while) and influenced the path of modern art and abstraction. I struggled on my art foundation course many, many years ago, my work always so illustrative I just didn’t get it.. I was on to fail my tutor Brian Clark was supportive he’d worked with me talked and discussed my drawings I still didn’t get it. I spent most of the Christmas break working on a delicate still life Cup and saucer a few satsumas and nuts… I felt really unhappy about the work, the course, everything. I decided to go for a walk through the village (there wasn’t much to it) then I spotted a couple of sheep so I pulled out my sketchbook and started drawing of course the sheep didn’t keep still so I found myself just drawing pretty rough impressions. I was so engrossed I failed to notice a woman standing a couple of feet away, smiling she introduced herself as the farmers wife she asked me to follow her so I walked with her across the road and into the yard. Opposite the farmhouse was a large barn and from it came the familiar bleating of a large number of sheep. She lead me to the barn and inside were the ewes and early lambs the farmers wife explained that this particular breed always produced early young. All around the barn were straw bales to keep them in and safe with their mother’s. The farmers wife said I could come anytime and work in the barn and just to let them know I was about. I couldn’t believe it I sat on one of the straw bales and just watched them the lambs scared at first soon became brave and it wasn’t long before they were pinching my sandwiches and nibbling the corners of my sketchbook…. By the time I’d finished I knew sheep from top to toe I could draw them without looking… When I went back to college after the Christmas holidays we all put our work on the table, a joint critique… As soon as Brian looked at my sheep he said go… Go draw some more fill a couple of sketchbooks with drawings use any medium you want… Bye.. So I spent another two weeks in a barn, new lambs were arriving all the time and I got to see them being born it was a amazing… When I got back in the studio I had so much to work from.. to develop… Mono prints, etchings, paintings It was very exciting. For the final piece I decided to work with birds I made them from cement and twigs mud and straw woven wire because we see birds so fleetingly all I wanted to show was my impression of them…. After the show was hung I stood in my little space surrounded by my birds and sheep paintings and I suddenly thought I know I don’t have to slavishly copy every hair every minute detail I could render the impression the spirit of a bird its essence, I felt quietly happy, not that I had achieved the end of something, so much still needed to be done so much could be improved but at that moment I had finally got it!!