Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Rua Nilo Mussi, Trindade


Rua Nilo Mussi, Trindade, oil on card, 21.3 x 21.5 cm

This picture was very difficult to paint. 


Friday, June 15, 2018

Explorations: BRDE exhibition notes



Here are some notes about the works on display at the BRDE show: a sort of introduction and maybe also some memories about what happened along the while I was making these pictures.

About me.

I grew up in Aberdeen, a provincial city in north-east Scotland, notable for stern and taciturn and decent granite buildings, where the people are stern and taciturn and decent too. There are also two beautiful rivers which lead you into the glory of the Scottish countryside. I used to cycle along the Dee in the evenings to escape effects of the tedium of school and smoke cigarettes and try to feel free. I also used to paint pictures though I never thought to combine the two activities.

I haven't changed much except now I live in a messy and not very stern Latin American city and travel by car, a silver Celta called HAY. HAY is my best friend and I love her and we have been all the way down to Uruguay but mainly we wander round Santa Catarina especially the fabulous mountain towns where you get this divine sense of lostness among the Araucarias.

Travelling and painting

Travelling and painting is basically the best sort of travelling you can do. You get to use a kit which consists of a box containing your paints and brushes and which you then mount on tripod to function also as an easel. The possibilities contained within the kit are infinite and glorious and it is your fault solely and entirely if you return home after a longish trip with a pile of rubbish paintings as messing about with them later never works, That responsibility focusses the mind.

I paint using oils which take a few days to dry so I carry them around in cardboard containers which I make specially.

Then you walk around looking for stuff that strikes you and, so long as the sun is shining you are fairly likely to find something.


The pictures here are a selection of those made from three trips in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Peru is a country that has very distinct regions and I spent most of most of my trips in the Andes- I avoided spending too long on the coastal cities because of the heat. I spent time in Ayacucho, Cajabamba, Cajamarca, Pacucha, Cusco and Tarma. There are also works from Lima, a place extraordinarily rich in architecture- albeit often dilapidated- Arquipa, Trujillo and Puno.

Peru is quite weird but rather good. The woman of Peru are finely dressed with excellent hats. Dentistry is rare. It`s cheap, quite pretty and the food is awful but the people leave you in peace even if the dogs don't. In fact, the Peuvians are mostly quite shy and courteous and sometimes were kind in bringing me things. Their children do not throw stones at you like Arab children nor attempt steal your stuff like the London brats. In Brazil people are mostly courteous too but not as shy, but still they don't bug you too much. If you have traveled and painted in Arab countries you will know that not being bugged is something to be very grateful for as Arabs harry you mercilessly.

All this matters because if you are painting you want to concentrate and if some idiot stands next to you repeating over and over -as one twerp did in Tijucas, what are you doing? - it is apt to damage your concentration.

Santa Catarina

As I live in Florianopolis the pictures here was based on explorations of the island and primarily the neighbouring regions. The good thing about Santa Catarina is that it has a huge variety of landscapes within a fairly small area and the locals aren`t as inclined to criminality as in other parts of Brazil. Also, it has a good span of different cultures, though architecturally it is quite barren. I get a bit fed up on the island and make regular trips usually to Urubici, Alfredo Wagner, Mafra and other mountain destinations. I did other trips down to Criciuma, to Orleons and way over to the west to Sao Miguel and places in between. I went to Anitapolis and to Araranguá also to Urussanga. It`s not a big state but it`s big enough to allow years and years of exploration.

The Pictures on display

The pictures are a selection to show the range of styles I worked in but it favours most the last Peruvian trip and the most recent Santa Catarina trips. The pictures are not painted slowly but only a few pictures survive. Most pictures I did are like burnt pancakes or horses you bet on and which nearly win but in fact lose, and thus engender a sort of disgust and you would rather not be reminded of them. Hence, they eventually find their way to the scrapheep. That is the way with plein air painting. It is at times agonising but when it goes right it is very sweet though somehow it doesn't feel like it was because of you but because the hand of the Great Architect somehow pushed things your way for once.

So you only feel it`s you when you lose and never when you win. I don`t know why that is.

Five pictures

All the pictures are very much of the hour. They aren't classical at all. I don't lay much claim to objectivity, nor to harmony and balance or the legacy of Poussin though I know he is magnificent. I`m pretty much a product of the northern subjectivist schools especially van Gogh and Munch, though I love Bonnard and Corot too.

All the pictures are glazed because I wanted to protect them from dust. The oil surface picks up dust quite readily but the glazing does mean you lose some immediacy. I framed the pictures simply and fairly uniformly for the show, but certain pictures might be better re framed for certain contexts such as white walls.

Now, let`s look at five pictures...

Sao Jose, looking across wasteland, oil on card, 13.5 x 11.5 cm

I liked the way the rise up flattened to road into a curve. I like the way the place was basically a dump, a sort of war-zone against the environment, the shamelessness of it all seemed worth recording. The world flattened out makes me think of Mantegna .


The mountains near Cajabamba, oil on card, 17.2 x 15 cm

This is from a place called Cajabamba which is small and fairly lost. I liked the Cezanne-ness of working there, the way the soft air lent such distance to the perspective and how melancholy it all was. I`d like to go back, there are big pigs on the lanes though there is no decent coffee even in the town centre. Milk is not popular either. The hills around are very soft yet exaggerated and have therefore a oddly mysterious quality as if offering endless places for one to hide.


Tijucas, kite flying, 16 x 18 cm

Sometimes you just get this sense of people or places that have just been abandoned or forgotten here at times, Europeans just sort of dumped. Or left to their own devices.


Guardo do Embau, with hills in the distance, oil on card, 18 x 22 cm

So much of my work has a troubled mind as its emotional genesis but here I wanted to make art which is explicitly about happiness about simplicity.. It`s an easy place to be happy in especially if all you want to do with your life is smoke pot and sunbathe.


Ayacucho, a view of some lots, oil on card, 18 x 16.5 cm

This was painted from the just down from the big square. Ayacucho is a pretty fine painting city except for the dogs. Too many: I saw six them attack a schoolgirl and me and this other guy had to rescue her. She was traumatized and returned home weeping. Anyway, the painting has those rigid geometries that seem to be the norm in Peruvian towns, with the whole place a grid extending with deviations from the central square. But that, from a painters perspective can lend visual sterility, especially in flat place. But Ayacucho has some fine hills, and this is one shows the lots to the north of the town. This picture has echos of Bonnard, I think.

That's it.

When I began to make these small paintings - and indeed they were very small, half the size of postcards - they were somewhat under the influence of Symbolist photography. They were consequently very tight and a little sad and gray, they failed to reflect the bright colors of sunny Brazil. I think I translated the cold tones of northern Europe with my contained palette and was unconsciously trying to impose nature on them here.

It took me about three years to get the work in order - at least in terms of the overall aesthetic method - by developing critical notions of what "good" or "bad" could mean as a reference to my work, and developing the technical fluency to achieve that goal.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Three more BRDE paintings, framed


 Tijucas, in the afternoon, oil on card, 17 x 21.5 cm, 2017, framed

 Duck II, oil on card, 14 x  13 cm, 2012, framed

Yellow tree, oil on card, 18 x 14.5 cm, 2017, framed

This brings the number of pictures framed and ready to thirty-three.

I won`t frame more.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

R. Luís Pasteur - Trindade, looking down


R. Luís Pasteur - Trindade, looking down, oil on card, 20.5 x 22.5 cm


Trindade, afternoon shadow


Trindade, afternoon shadow, oil on card, 19.5 x 23.5 cm


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Trindade, cyclist


Trindade, cyclist, oil on card 23.5 x 19.5 cm