Friday, May 30, 2014

View from near a bridge

View from near a bridge, oil on card, 12.5 x 15.5 cm

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Joaquina: sky, sea, sands; Boudin

Joaquina: sky, sea, sands, oil on card, 12.5 x 15 cm

It`s been a while since I had been down to the sea -at least successfully- and I`ll try to do more work there over the next few days, weather permitting.

I`ve taken the French easel out: it`s an elegant thing though rather heavy to lug around. But it allows me to work standing up, and to lay out my colours more easily, and makes me feel rather swish.

I wish I could easily see more of Boudin`s work- he is rather the master of this sort of long marine view, often presented on small, oblong canvases. I see that (bizzarely as I can`t find any connection between him and Brazil, and there aren`t any works by him in MASP) there is a square named after him in Sao Paolo:

Boudin is a true petit-maître: he has his province and works it well: he does not shout, he knows his limits and he has wit. Contemporary art is tiresomely full of ideas, as if ideas can be some sort of substitute for sensibility and material transformation.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Scots pines, Ingleses

Scots Pines, Ingleses, oil on card, 14.5 x 16.5 cm  SOLD

Friday, May 23, 2014

The road to Campeche- woman in a red dress

The road to Campeche- woman in a red dress, oil on card, 12 x14 cm  SOLD

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 2014; Under the Tracks, Astoria Boulevard

Under the tracks, Astoria Boulevard, Queens N.Y., Oil on card, 14 x 10.5 cm  SOLD

I`m pleased to say that this picture was accepted for the Summer Exhibition in the Royal Academy, London, which runs from 9 June to 17 August.

My other submission, a picture of flowers, was rejected: it is larger, and more conventional, both in subject and execution.

But it is always difficult and, as likely as not, pointless, to speculate over the reasons for acceptance in these group shows: one persons subjectivity is complex, that of a panel of judges must be even more so. Or it could be that things are refused on such grounds as size, their excessive similarity to other submissions, or because of fashions, or groupthink, or behind-the-scenes horsetrading.

Given that, it is probably self-contradictory of me then to say that I see the acceptance of Under the Tracks as an affirmation that the N.Y trip produced a good run of pictures and wonder if I should plan a return trip there: next year is too soon for me to feel fresh, and respond in a lively way to things there, but perhaps in 2015?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scaffolding 10; Liam Maloney

Part of Scaffolding 10, a monotype from 2009, has been used as a cover for Liam Thomas Maloney`s electronic music. The music seems to suit the print, or vice versa...

Rio Cubatão do Sul

Rio Cubatão do Su, oil on card, 11 x 14 cm

Hill, Santo Amaro da Imperatriz, oil on card, 12.5 x 13.5 cm

Both painted in Santo Amaro da Imperatriz.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pochade carriers, in black, maroon, blue and green. 

I have put labels on the fronts: perhaps they should be slightly smaller. The carriers have to be simple and elegant. But they should also be cheap to produce and robust., fit for their purpose, which is to carry pictures around securely. That they are somewhat irregular should be part of their appeal. But there is a balance to be found between irregularity and sloppiness.

The carriers are popular with buyers, who enjoy seeing the paintings in them. This is partly because the carriers give a feeling of the plein air experience, and because there is always something beguiling about having to open something to see what is hidden inside. 

This touches on the experience of art as the revealing of something hidden: another person`s subjectivity, a notion which sits happily in contrast to the extrovert activity of travel painting.


My next big trip is in July, the other side of the World Cup. I go to Bolivia. It seems an awfully long time to wait. I find regular "civilian" life extremely boring. I like waking up in hotels and being presented with new scenarios every day.  Brazil is very far away from everywhere else and it is expensive to get around, even to Uruguay. But perhaps I`ll think of something.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Praia Mole, through shrubbery

Praia Mole, through shrubbery, oil on card, 12.5 x 13.5 cm

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Three pictures from Santo Amaro da Imperatriz

A hillside, oil on card, 12 x 16 cm

 Houses under construction, oil on card, 11 x 13.5 cm

 A hut, oil on card, 12.5 x 14 cm

Three from this small and pleasant town. 

I`ve been going there in the last week, but couldn`t make the pictures work. Sometimes it takes a few days to accumulate the necessary knowledge of a landscape to catch it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Trees on a promontory

Trees on a promontory, oil on card, 15.5 x 18.5 cm

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The dunes near Joaquina


Dunes, Joaquina, oil on card, 13 x 14 cm

The sea painted from the odd lunar landscape that leads Joaquina to Mole.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Not long ago.

Ear, oil on card, 14 x 15 cm

Not long ago, shortly on my return from the Pantanal in Brazil, where I had been sent by VEM engineering to discuss the possible creation of a giant plant for the manufacture of domestic appliances,  I began to have in one of my ears the sound of a constant scratching sound, much like the sound of a knife scraping against a ceramic plate. These symptoms went on for several weeks, and I resolved to see my doctor.

He conducted the obvious examination: peering into my ear with a special eyeglass. But, finding nothing,  he began to ask me questions about my home and work life before cutting me off abruptly: “Stress.”  . He scribbled  a note. “Give this to your employer. Take a week. Go to the seaside.”

So in three minutes I was back on the pavement, and the next day wondering listlessly along a dull Eastbourne promenade, a paperback apathetic in one pocket, the scraping sound in one ear, the waves crashing in the other.

A week later I was back in the surgery demanding further consultations: he sent me onto an Audiologist, down near Paddington station, and I found myself in a tiny room at the end of a filthy corridor in which elderly, often obese patients quietly rotted like forgotten vegetables in a provincial corner shop. 

I was instructed to lie on a couch by a nurse, and a fantastical machine made a scan of my ear region. With amazing speed the results were printed out and I was ushered into an even smaller room behind: Andreas Andreopoulos, Consultant.

This was a small man, evidently Greek, filled with enthusiasm for my case. He spoke with great emphasis on particular words, as if treats to be savoured.

“Tell me all about yourself, please, where have you been?”, cocking his head to one side like a cat.
“Well I went to the seaside”, I began. “Yes the seaside- I read that here.  But before? Perhaps you were in the Congo, Borneo, somewhere tropical? More interesting?”

 I told him about my visit to the Pantanal, and the plans for the giant factory and how we would soon be able to produce sufficient vacuum cleaners to hoover the entire Amazon rainforest.

“That is wonderful. Progress. We Greeks,” he continued, with a somewhat philosophical expression, “how would you say, we laid the foundations of civilisation. Now it is the turn of the new countries. The future is always with youth, is it not?”

He looked down to the scans on his desk: “ We do not often get such interesting cases.”

“Look!” He beamed, indicating with a pen on the scan. “It is like this. There is a fly, a burrowing fly, found only in tropical regions. It loves dark places. Look! It fly into your ear! An see...” He indicated a channel deep in my ear. “It began here, and now!” - he jabbed with his pen, at an area that had been marked with a thick red marker- “It has got all the way here!” It was a point someway inside my cranium. “ It is making a little home! Home sweet home!

He began giggling.

“We will cut it out. Not to worry. We will cut it out on… ” - he consulted a computer screen- “Thursday!” And he began laughing again. 

“I am sure this is all very amusing”, I said.

“Oh, you will be fine,” he said dismissively, but then his merry expression fell with unusual speed to one of utter despondency.

“Be cheerful. There is a sickness, there is a cure! It could be worse, look at me, I am shrinking.”

He stood up, and I could see how his clothes fell in great swags like theatre curtains, his trousers bagging round his shoes, and how he had rolled up the sleeves of his white coat.

“Every year I have to buy new clothes, a complete set. It is ridiculous. Humiliating. My wife won’t even go to the shops with me. She is ashamed. It is shameful.  Of course she is ashamed. The nurses make jokes. I hear them laughing on the other side” He nodded to the door. “They pretend to care but I hear their laughter when the door close.”

And he fell into silence.

The surgery came, I convalesced and left the hospital: the scratching sound was no more. 

And I didn`t see the consultant for a year after that.

 I was walking down Wimpole Street with my new girlfriend- a tall slim woman with a phd in Astro Chemistry from Harvard, and an ex-model for la Perla. We were so very much in love that even strolling aimlessly hand in hand was a joy. A tender sun sent shimmers to the spring trees as we walked.

 A figure hurried towards us: at first I thought it a child, albeit one oddly dressed in a white coat. But it was the consultant. 

I caught his face: "Doctor!" He stopped.  "This is Alessia. This is the wonderful doctor I told you about!" She bent to shake his hand, but he ignored it. “ are well I see. I am so glad for you!”

And he off he toddled, somewhere towards Portland Street.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The shoes are our friends.

Gothic shoes, oil on card, 14 x 12.2 cm

Shoes, of all the things we wear, are our dearest friends, protecting us and making our lives possible, accompanying us of every journey, uncomplaining, diligent, dependable.

Perhaps it is because this deep loyalty of service is expressed with so few complaints that we tend to take our shoes for granted, casting them aside at the close of day almost contemptuously, dirty socks stuffed inside them. And giving the polishes and repairs that they require only when it is utterly essential, or have caught the contemptuous expression of a junior colleague at the office at the sight of their forlorn, un-nourished faces. You rarely consider their well-being until the moment when, walking across a rain puddled pavement with feet damp because the soles have worn through, you say to yourself resignedly, I had better take these to the Paraguayan cobbler later this week. How tedious!

I have long been aware of the wrongness of such indifference, and have been repaid not just with loyalty but loving concern. 

Recently,  I happened to be in a small town in northern Uruguay, night falling, the air cool: a perfect time for an evening stroll. There were some people still around, closing shops and finding their ways home. And out we went, my shoes and I, and I wandered somewhat aimlessly about a square, then down a cobbled old street where a charming old church beckoned. The lighting grew dimmer and dimmer as I proceeded and, peculiarly, my shoes began pinching terribly. I resolved to return to the hotel immediately to relieve my feet.

"Have you been for a walk?", the plump receptionist enquired  pleasantly.  I told him where I had been, and he replied, "you should be most careful round there, Señor, there have been many robberies". Indeed there was such a robbery later that night, only fifty metres from where I`d stopped. An old lady had been relieved of her handbag and pearls, and tater had a series of heart-attacks.

There is no doubt in my mind that it was a premonition on the part of my shoes that caused them to warn me.

Similarly, a few months ago, I decided to drive to the south of this island, where the coconut trees sway continually in a sort of meditation. I dressed, then reached for my shoe, my foot expecting fully its cool embrace. But it was resistant, as if it reduced itself by several sizes. I tried with the other shoe, but it was the same, I could scarcely squeeze my foot past the opening, and had to abandon my trip. Later I discovered that two tourists had been killed three by falling coconuts, their thick American skulls  reduced to bloody fragments on the grass around their moutainously obese forms.

The scientific minded among you will, quite understandably, question my conclusions. They will mention, I`m sure, such factors, as coincidence, the possible swelling of my feet, or have some complicated ideas about auto-suggestion, or cleverly say, with enormous self-satisfaction, "ah but this is not enough to establish a pattern!" They might even suggest that I have been visited by hallucinations.

But I suspect that these very same, sober souls are just the sort of  people who casually fling their shoes under their beds at the end of the day without giving even so little as a "thank you", or a "goodnight".

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Santo Amaro de Imperatriz, May

Santo Amaro de Imperatriz, May, oil on card, 17 x 17.5 cm

Attempting to work with few different paints, a way of exploring their individual qualities.