Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Selecting for Rio

Forty-four paintings. I will select a dozen to take.

I shall truck round some galleries with my wares in Rio on Friday. I think the best thing is to take a variety.

I'm experienced enough to know that if some people like what I do, some never will. The opinions of those who dont really are of no consequence, because it is usually because they just don't like this sort of painting, however well or badly it is executed, and they are really not "on side". Ergo it's better simply to ignore them.

I will reduce the selection above to a dozen: to show more is to risk repetition. It is better for people to say, "I wish I could see more", then for them to say "ok i think that's enough". The paintings chosen should be bright and immediate. I am visiting totally on spec and I imagine that the galleries will not give me much time, if any.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Confusion, oil on card, 10.2  8.7 cm

This was painted behind my block: in the foreground is a bridge crossing one of the drainage canals in the area.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Block, windows, trees

Block, windows, trees, oil on card, 11.5 x  8.6 cm

Another grey day here. Thank goodness I am off to Rio this weekend.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pochades: an attempt at self-criticism II

The intellect demands understanding but while I might draw my conclusions, make reccomendations, stipulate policies, all this seems to make no difference to the sheer strange willfulness of art-making itself, which is, so much, too much  like leading a lively dog across a meadow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pochades: an attempt at self-criticism

A selection of pochades

I'm going through the pochades of the last three years, dating and titling the backs, varnishing them, deciding if any should be discarded (always a delightful feeling to paint over the dodgy ones, as if someone has taken an invisible rucksack from my back) seeing if I can draw any general conclusions from seeing them en masse.

My conclusions are:

1. The best pictures are not fuzzy. There is a clear focus. When first I began painting the pochades about three years ago I was somewhat under the influence of early photography. I liked the blurriness of those early Victorian images, and even more that of symbolist photographers sush as in the Camera Work group. On reflection, this influence was baleful: the dreamlike effects are a way, I think of artists escaping responsibility, of saying in effect: "it is not up to us to direct you, all we do is provide a certain stimulus".

2. There is a certain minimum amout of work that the pochades have to contain. That is, there must evidently be a transformative process on display, so that the viewer cannot dismiss the piece as mere.

3. The better pictures use clear, clean colours. Initially, I used often somewhat muted colours. I feel this was a mistake, and the result of cowardice: fear of colour

4. The best pictures are very rooted in direct experience, especially a sense of excitement with places or people. This has to be balanced with knowledge. If a place is totally new then it is often overwhelming, but this is better than if it is too familiar, because then it doesn't inspire at all. It is surprising how many of the best pictures come from being in a place for the very first time and I kick myself for not having pursued the delights of travel painting more vigorously before.

5. There is good attention payed to surfaces and textures.

6. There seems to be a maximum size in which I can give the picture sufficient attention within the hour and a half that one session lasts. So pictures larger than about 10cm sq in surface area are generally too large for the results to be satisfactory.

7. There is little gimmicky work. This is good.

The sea near Beiramar Avenue

The sea near Beiramar Avenue, oil on card, 9 x 11.3 cm

It began to drizzle while I was painting this. When I get the car- soon I think- I will be able to vary much more the conditions in which I paint.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A road through woodland

A road through woodland, oil on card, 12 x 9 cm

Painted from near Praia Mole.

When I see copses, and woodland like this I think of Seigfried Sassoon, whose beautiful, ironical prose has affected me strongly. I love his sensiblilty of being within events, and yet so cooly, laughably, indifferent to them, and I love his love of nature too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Broken Wave

 Broken Wave, oil on card, 9.1 x 11.5 cm

A Whistlerian piece, hopelessly difficult to photograph.

There is a point when painting where instincts have to take over

Friday, August 19, 2011

From Technopolis

From Technopolis, oil on card, 10.7 x 8.5cm

The picture shows the car park and warehouses and the hills beyond, cut by the highway: you get a sense of the terrifying spread of the city into nature.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Suburban gardens; miniaturism

 Suburban gardens, oil on card, 8.6 x 10.2 cm

On miniaturism: someof additional points to yesterday's post:

1. When you paint miiature you can combine colours which on a larger scale would jarr. For this reason, painting small is not a good thing for novices, because they need to learn the full effects of colour combinations. Ditto for other aesthetic elements

2. The miniature has assications with the keepsake, the aide memoire: ergo, its nostolgic feel.

3. Things are made interesting merely by being small: they invite peering

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

From Taubate


A view of Taubate from concrete Jesus, oil on card, 12;6 x 10.4cm

From Taubate, a city that sprawls somewhat shapelessly across a valley. It has little of distinction, but in a way that makes it likeable, lending it a fairly laid-back atmosphere.

They have placed the usual ubiquitous Jesus overlooking the city. His head, usefully, has an arial transmitter sticking out of it: I painted from just below him.


This concludes the paintings done during my big July trip. I think the next big trip will be to Chile and Argentina.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Yet another lonely filling station

Yet another lonely filling station, oil on card, 11 x 12 cm

From near here, but painted from behind, where the swamp is.

When I get my car I shall do more of these. The filling stations round here often serve as a locus for the communities: at the back of this one are a bar, a barbers, a dry cleaners and video shop. You can drink yourself merry before driving on. Wonderful.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunset, Praia Mole; Chile; Rio

Sunset, Praia Mole, oil on card, 9.6 x 12 cm  SOLD

Very Turnerish picture: does the obvious beauty of such a subject and the fact that it is such a staple of populist art make it a no go area for painters? One might respond: no, it depends on your capacity for interpretation.


Today I shall try to get a guide book on Chile and make more pochade carriers for Rio, where I'll go at the end of September to paint and court galleries.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A tree behind a wall; South American trip

A tree behind a wall, oil on card, 10.6 x8.5 cm

A soft little painting.


Apparantly Bolivia is very rainy between April and March. Ergo for my January trip, I'm thinking of flying to Chile then coming back to Brazil via Bariloche and Buenos Aires.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

São José dos Campos: Burle Marx Municipal Park with the Olivo Gomes residence

Burle Marx Municipal Park with the Olivo Gomes Residence: oil on card, 11 x 9.5 cm  SOLD

This beautiful park is well worth visiting, along with the Gomes Residence, in what is otherwise a somewhat undistinguished city (though it does contain a huge number of funny little small businesses on the way from the centre from the bus station): diminutive diners and tiny shops painted in bright colours where they repair clothes or rennovate car tyres.

I fear this side of Brasil will one day completely dissappear, as it virtually has in the UK, replaced by identikit shopping malls and chain stores.

Many thanks to Larry for taking me here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A rainy day

A rainy day, oil on card, 9 x 12.1 cm

Bucketing down, hard even to leave the apartment for a minute without getting soaked. I painted in the grounds of UDSC.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Melancholy- Guarrulhos airport

Melancholy- Guarrulhos airport, oil on card, 12.5 x 10.5 cm

All journeys from Brasil begin and end at Guarrulhos airport, a miserable place.

I am thinking that perhaps flying out of Brasil via Buenos Aires in future might be better.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A view from above Praia Mole

A view from above Praia Mole, oil on card, 10.9 x 9.6 cm

A fantastic day of sunshine and not too hot: there is an area above the dunes which offers wonderful views. No-one much seems to go there, so I can work peacefully. There is inspiration for easily a dozen more paintings.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A game of football

A game of football, oil on card, 11.7 x 9.5 cm

A beautiful wonter's day in Florianopolis. Apart from Deleunay, I can't think of anyone else who has painted a football game.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Birches, Aviemore

Birches, Aviemore, oil on card, 8 x 10 cm SOLD

The final picture of the Spey Way walk. By this point the weather had closed in, very cold and dark. I'd forgotten quite how inhospitable the Scottish climate can be

Thursday, August 4, 2011

London: Chelsea and Kensington: five paintings


Distant view of Kensington Palace, oil on card, about 10 x 11 cm  NOT FOR SALE

I love this side of London, it's spacious, clean and elegant. I love the way it slopes down to the river. It feels calm and orderly. I stayed with my beautiful friends Lise and Felix in Notting Hill Gate: the weather was perfect.

If these pictures are popular and there is clearly a market, then I should like to return to London to do a larger run.

I always think that I am in "Whsitler territory" when I wander down to Chelsea.

 Kensington Palace from near the Pond, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm  SOLD

 Battersea Bridge, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm

St Columba's Church, Chelsea, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm

Campden Hill Gardens, Notting Hill, oil on Card, 10 x 12 cm

Four of these pochades in their little carriers


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paintings from the Spey Way

 View from The Croft, Elgin, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm  SOLD

 The Spey Bay, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm

Fochabars, oil on card, 10 x 8 cm

Gatehouse to Craigellachie Castle, oil on card, 10 x 12cm

Houses, Moray, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm  SOLD

The Spey near Ballindalloch, oil on card, 10, x 11 cm  SOLD
I spent a week walking the Spey way. I walked up to the Spey Bay from Elgin, the followed the river down to Aviemore, getting lost a few times and spending the night in various Bed and Breakfasts and hostels.

Painting-wise the trip was good, but the romantic idea of walking and painting as I went, was less happy in reality.

This is because:
1. carrying a rucksack- which happened to break on day two is very tedious
2. my shoes started to cut very badly into my heels
3. Scotland in the rain is not a good place to be when you are walking on a hillside
4. packing and unplacking  every night and morning gets annoying.

Better conceived was the Christmas trip to the mountains earlier this year, when I stayed in the same place and made daily excursions with just a little bag. I shall adapt trips in future to this model. It means one has the chance to do a reconaissance of a place, then return to where is good. If one is following a linear track that doesnt happen, unless one walks back- something which i find psychologically well nigh impossible. It also is better socially because you can get to know people sometimes at your lodgings, and it is nice to chat to someone after a solitary day painting.

Anyway, as regards painting, I am happy: here is a little selection- more can be found on Flickr:

Monday, August 1, 2011

London: paintings from the south London suburbs


The view south from Crystal Palace, London, oil on card, about 12 x 10 cm  NOT FOR SALE

I mentioned how I had felt that painting the "official" more obvious tourist London might feel like a restriction, that as I painter it might feel as if I were working within a world of entirely pre-determined, setpiece views.

In fact, I found this less tedious and limiting thing I had imagined. There is a reason for the set piece views, and it is because they really are often truly spectacular, despite the fact that they have been turned into cliches.

So the there was no need to adopt a superior "ironical" attitude in depicting the sights, and I shall set about doing more.

The view from Brixton Hill, London, oil on card, about 12 x 10 cm  NOT FOR SALE

Nunhead Cemetery, London,oil on card, about 12 x 10 cm  SOLD

Clapham South, London, oil on card, about 12 x 10 cm

But I also did some bus journeys into the suburbs, in south London around Brixton and Crystal Palace, and to Nunhead, hoping to capture their very particular spirit, to create more intimate localised views of residential areas, perhaps places which had some memories for me.

I wish I had had more time to get into this: I hadn´t the chance to visit old haunts in Finsbury Park (spcifically the lovely Parkland walk, along the old railway line) and those areas behind Holloway Road and Hornsey which always seem forgotten to me (an instinct which was awakened in me by John Foxx who, indeed, used sections of the old railway to make a film:

I am very much hoping to return to London before the bad weather and darkness set in this year.