Thursday, September 21, 2017

A photo from Bucharest, becoming an artist


Bucharest, 2002

Here I am over twenty years ago twenty in Bucharest in 1992. I had graduated from Edinburgh University two years before and was teaching English in Bayswater, London.

I'd taken the decision not to continue making art but to focus on teaching to make a living and get on the career ladder That decision showed a failure of self-awareness on my part, albeit an understandable one: I can teach, and that offered a much more secure financial future, but it isn't a first instinct in the way making art is.

In addition, I thought that the pleasure I got from travel was merely a phase, and that I could happily develop a life in London as permanent fixed resident, with all the usual accouterments and relationships.

In both these decisions I was mistaken. And I compounded the effect of these misjudgments because instead of accepting my nature- that of a nomadic and creative individual- I waged a campaign against my instincts and tried to force myself into a condition I did not suit, throwing moralist arguments about the "better good of society" or, "duty" or "career" at myself. I had had some ideas that "happiness came not from pursuit of suit of self interest but in the fulfillment " of duty (which is not a direct quote from Saint-Exupery, but could well be).

In short, had thought that my enjoyment of making art could be relegated to the status of a hobby and I tried to suppress my desire to do so.

Eventually I came to my senses.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

View into a bedroom; Facebook page


View into a bedroom, oil on card, 12 x 14 cm

I have now a Facebook page specifically related to my artwork.

 I shall continue to put work on my personal page which contains pretty much the entire catalogue of pochades. However, it is recommended that artists create specific pages relating to work and here it is-


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Table, bottle, The Old Patagonia Express


Table, bottle, The Old Patagonia Express, plate, oil on card, 13 x 14 cm


Monday, September 18, 2017

A bowl on a tray and a plate with apples; painting in monochrome


A bowl on a tray and a plate with apples, oil on card, 11 x 13 cm

I had the idea that on one of the trips I should esshew colour entirely and just work with black and white,  or dark sepia, this sustaining a deeper understanding of this fascinating area.

I like the way subtleties of brush movement, or of texture or tone become highlighted and how using black and white tips one into abstraction. Perhaps London, already monochrome in Portland Stone and steel sky would be the ideal place to experiment?

Colour is heady and tends to obliterate appreciation of anything but itself. It's like a drug, and like a drug you need to take more and more for the same effect. That does you no harm, though appreciation of anything grows with its absence.

A puritanical, or perhaps merely ascetic, side to my nature, Scottish or Danish in origin, lends me to suspect any too easily won aesthetic pleasure.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

A bowl, a spoon, tomatoes, papers


A bowl, a spoon, tomatoes, papers, oil on card, 12.5 x 14.2 cm


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

A poem about Britain in thirty pictures


Thirty pochade carriers for the U.K.

I think of the trip as a poem, the paintings bearing more similarity in their subjective qualities to this than to any topographical survey. A poem about Britain in thirty pictures. Or fewer, as I may ditch some later. The schematic quality of the project is satisfying, but such schematic notions can stultify. It's better to just get on with the work and see if anything good happens. 

 As the trip approaches I regret not giving more time to it, but the UK is an expensive place to travel in, and simply does not represent good value, both food and accommodation being very costly. It is wiser to put the money aside for use in Ecuador next year.

The carriers in their playschool colours when laid out like that are reminiscent of Klee's* Magic Squares. This external character a little different from their sober insides:

Open carrier 

Some of the carriers have been reused many times on different trips and I like the sense that they have a garnered a history. I enjoy repairing them and trying to trying ways to make make them ever more robust containers.


Like many, I guess, I feel a certain pessimism about the way the UK is going, that the better elements in the society are suppressed and a strange and reckless yet powerful group is determining its future.

* a fine travel-painter