Sunday, December 25, 2011

Annual Review: Flickr, Blogger, Facebook, Saachi, Deviantart, Art and Artists



The year has essentially been good, with a decent level of production, some sales and positive gallery contacts in Edinburgh.

In terms of quality, the work varies. Art is not craft, nor is it decoration: it's an experimental research, and the products of any artist necessarily vary in quality. A percentage of work -even whole weeks or months- can be spent in futile searches. This is not enjoyable, but the alternative is to lean into insipidity or mere craftsmanship.

This year, however, has consolidated somewhat: when I began blogging a couple of years ago I was in a very uncertain phase, trying many new media, and techniques, and themes, in an attempt to find my feet.

I elected to follow the path of "itinerant painter", humbly in the footsteps of painter-heroes such as Turner and Lear. I felt that this would be a way to combine the pleasures of travel, of observation, of personal reflection with the delight of painting, and allow me to escape from private ruminations, which are rarely, in truth, of much interest to anyone else, even when lent artistic form. With this role, I joyfully visited Italy, Malta, am touring Brazil, and will, in February, go to London, Scotland and Tunisia. 

Ergo, over the last year, I have been considerably more focused on painting "pochades": portable small paintings about the sises of postcards, or even smaller.

My production, naturally, varies in quality: there are a fair proportion of "duds": at least 15%. There are works which are, I think exemplary, perhaps one in thirty , and then there is the grey mass, whose quality is never easy to discern.

It can be said that making very bad painting is better from an learning perspective than making mediocre ones, in that they illustrate faults with much less ambiguity. Contrawise, when things "go right", I always hate that touched by the hand of God feeling, which both athletes and artists share on rare, brilliant days: such instances teach nothing, even as they lend moments of ecstasy.

Like many artists, I possess a "blind spot" when it comes to judging my own work: things which seem wonderful to me on the day of painting, on the next appear meretricious. Others, which I dismissed soon after making, later seem to possess some interest. 


This site remains excellent for attracting new viewers. The fact that I can show my work in various virtual groups allows me to find new followers. The site is elegant and easy to use.

There are 545 followers,  up from 454 last year.


I have been posting here steadily, with commentaries. I went through a period of posting film reviews on here too: later I came to the conclusion, from reading other online film reviews, that I have little or nothing to add to the good work done by many well known critics, my own opinions really differing little from theirs. Ergo, I slowly stopped publishing my reviews.

The indexing system is superb, allowing : rapid thematic connection between postings. Choosing keywords is not easy: too general and it is useless, an too specific fill fail to connect one post with another. Should there be separate keywording for "sea" and "sea painting" for instance? But, as my blog develops, which keywords are useful will become more obvious.

So now the site concentrates almost entirely on my own art production.

There are  now 59 followers, up from 43: I rarely get feedback though Blogger, however.


I've been showing work here steadily through the year. It is quite effective as it bridges social networks and art sites. I recommend it. It has been good for generating sales and interest. I have  "friends"- few of who met me there specifically to follow my work.


This inelegant and fussy site is not much good- I think it''s primarily aimed at teenagers. I have now 39 followers, up from 10 last year.


I have found this site utterly useless in terms of making contacts with other artists, rarely receiving comments or any interest whatsoever. My feeling is that it attracts strictly careerists, and they have little notion of community. I will probably stop posting here.

Art and Architecture

I have joined this site a few days ago. Let's see how it goes:

I feel a broad sympathy with it's objectives, though it isn't elegant.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The mountain, Palhoça; miniaturism

The mountain, Palhoça, oil on card, 11.7 / 14.7 cm

Palhoça is one of those towns on the periphery of Florianopolis, like so many satellite towns in other Brazilian cities, so undistinguished that is it difficult to know quite why it exists.

But there is the mountain: undeniable, like the mountains in Poussin, rendering all below to insignificance.

Further thoughts on miniaturism, and small painting- notably the observations that the act of painting small seems happily to place one in opposition to bombast -as I write, as my country idiotically flings money at that costly, grandiose, pea-brained extravagance called the Olympic Games, giving good taxpayers money on ephemeral kitsch while cutting vital assistance for people with severe disabilities.

More pertinently, have not most art lovers at some point in their pilgrimages found themselves wandering with  dulled eyes through vast chambers in European Galleries and Palaces, uncharmed by endless rows of joyless gigantic Baroque paintings, extolling this or that official virtue, lined up in great halls in European galleries and palace, to find themselves suddenly delighted by a small and intimate painted voice?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Road-building 2, Lagoa; travel painting: my secret shame

Road-building, oil on card, 15 / 12 cm

A particularly shimmering day, God-made with Velázquez, perhaps.

This is the second of an open and occasional series tracing the building of this new suburban development being constructed on some heathland, which I had previously painted.

This time I am again on the rise, but about two hundred metres further over from the road.


My secret shame as a painter of landscapes and whose work is increasingly dependent on travel, is that I dislike travel itself.

I don't like the actual processes of travel, apart from trains or the buying of tickets and planning as I find I find this stressful. I have generalised worries that something is going to go wrong. I don't like having to speak foreign languages and I feel nervous in new places. I am suspicious of all strangers, especially if they want to help me. I don't like hotels and hostels and I don't like strange food. I worry continually about being robbed or losing something. I resent paying huge sums for simple items and consumables. I don't like being alone for long periods and I don't like losing my routines.

In short, I am a pitiful traveller.

Quite what the solution to this is, I don't know, though I have found that the best thing is to imagine a worst case scenario ( robbed and gang raped in the mountains of Tunisia, reads the headline in the Daily Mail, perhaps), then judge the likelihood of this, then place all the other pettier worries on a sliding scale, to illustrate their triviality.

The benefits gained in terms of inspiration well exceed these caveats.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Ostrich, oil on card, 13.5 / 10.8 cm

Painted at the north of the island- thanks to César and Angela for letting me use their balcony.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Praia Joquina: lifeguard; exhibition

Praia Joaquina: lifeguard, oil on card, 12 / 14.9 cm

I am thinking of having a little show consisting only of sea paintings. There are about 30 little ones in total. I wondered whether this might be monotonous, or whether the narrowness of theme could have the opposite effect, by encouraging comparisons.

I laid out the thirty paintings and they are not too bad, though I feel that it is probably better to present a smaller selection, say 12, because the eye gets weary, and showing too many things can have a cheapening effect.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santo Amaro de Imperatriz from above

Santo Amaro de  Imperatriz from above, oil on card, 11.2 / 13.5 cm

Another Saturday visit  to this beautifully located little town, which I love to paint.

I wish I could easily go and see some of Kokoschka's or Bomberg's paintings. Seeing things online is only really good as a reference and both were fellow itinerants, painting places from above.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Road-building I, Lagoa

Road-building, Lagoa, oil on card, 13.5 / 12.5 cm

A new suburban area being contstructed where previously lay heathland.