Thursday, March 31, 2016


 Joaquina, sea, the end of March, 2016, oil on card, 15 x 13 cm

Joaquina, the end of March, 2016, oil on card, 15 x 17 cm

Two from Praia Joaquina- there is that high key light there, shadow-less and strange. Ensor, a hero, painted similarly near Ostend.

It's delightful to sit there and paint, and forget about daily life. It is difficult and slow here: it is difficult to achieve things and Brazilians are forever cancelling meetings or messing about with the arrangements. It is annoying to do stuff with them, 

Next week I travel to Chile.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A view of the mountains in March


A view of the mountains in March, oil on card, 15.5 x 17 cm

This is part of an ongoing series painted from the same location, behind a petrol station in Santo Amaro da Imperatriz.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Moçambique, from a hill


Moçambique, from a hill, oil on card, 22 x 16.5 cm


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A visit to the Serra Catarinense:Rancho Queimado; small German towns


Rancho Queimado: main street, oil on card, 12.5 x 14 cm

Rancho Queimado: little houses, oil on card, 14 x 12 cm

Rancho Queimado, trees in the distance, oil on card, 11.5 x 14 cm

 Rancho Queimado, church, oil on card, 13 x 13 cm

The brightness of this set pleases me, and I like how they suggest children's book illustration. There is, indeed, something of Toytown in these small German mountain towns here, as if they were created with wooden building blocks.

This is partly because of the style of buildings, which seem to be very self-consciously stereo-typically German, and in their repetition. The constituent parts  vary in their positions, but the pieces are the same, as if taken out of a giant play-box and ordered with a square, restaurant, school and church according to the restrictions of the landscape. The inhabitants are invariably friendly and cheerful, again, like in Playmobil, and the socio-educational level is high (for Brazil). I am sure they are extremely conservative. I find these towns pleasant to visit, but to stay longer than a day or two would be tedious. I doubt the people think much of their compatriots who are very disorderly bunch in comparison. 

Much of my understanding of Brazil is governed by the sense that it is a country of tremendous wastefulness, It constantly fails on account of lack of organisation and collective will to arrive at a socio-economic and cultural level that other nations regard as normal.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A visit to the Serra Catarinense: between Alfredo Wagner and Rancho Queimado


 Meadow, oil on card, 14.5 x 15.5 cm

Mountain view, oil on card, 12.5 x 13.5 cm

Two landscapes from my drive last weekend.


Monday, March 7, 2016

A visit to the Serra Catarinense: Alfredo Wagner


Alfredo Wagner, afternoon, houses, oil on card, 14 x 14.5

 Alfredo Wagner, buildings on a hillside, oil on card, 12.5 x 14.5 cm

Both of these were painted from my room in the excellent Saolo Hotel. The breakfast was lacking (why is the coffee in Brazilian hotels so dreadful?*) but you can't really complain for 60R$ a night.

Both paintings are a success- following the terms I have set myself- lively, bright and harmonious,, successful in their description of the sensation of the place, and optimistic. They were rapidly executed, but behind them lie many failed pictures.

 It is important in this style of painting not to contradict oneself: if the piece is about immediacy of impression and spontaneity of response, then one must avoid the temptation to correct, one must accept and work with errors or clumsy marks, incorporating them into the composition: a Chinese virtue.

*part of a larger question: why is the coffee in Brazil so dreadful? Yes, there are occasional fancy cafes where it is good. Here in Floripa there are two, established by Australians. But the standard stuff in bakeries and ordinary restaurants is  dishwater, Stock reply- because the best coffee goes for export. As with all stock replies, one wonders if: a. this is really true and, b. why would it be true? Surely separating some bags of beans for a luxury domestic market would be easy? The same arguments circulate about chocolate.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Valparaiso revisited


From Stanfords Library Series, 1912

I was so impressed by Valparaiso as a painting city that I'd had, since my visit there back in June, 2012, the idea of returning to do more paintings. So I'm returning in early April.

In many ways it's an ideal painting city: not too big and set on many hills with splendid views, great crumbling 19th century architecture and and that Tom Waitsian atmosphere of abandon. The light was clear and the people weren't annoying.

I have a feeling that I'll visit relatively few totally new places this year, there being so much pleasure in revisiting the old and capitalizing on the benefits of hindsight and the knowledge of the place that I've garnered, There is also considerable pleasure in seeing if one has advanced in any way creatively too.

But revisiting is an art in itself. If one revisits too soon, and one might as well never have left. What is nice is for ones memory to have blurred a little and for the place or oneself to have changed sufficiently to incur surprise,  to discover other perspectives, and feel delight, 


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sea, Praia Brava


Sea, Praia Brava, oil on card, 16 x 13.4 cm

A listless day, a strange sense of incompletion.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A drive to the mountains


 Rancho Queimado- in the mountains, oil on card, 14 x 15 cm

Aguas Mornas- logs, oil on card. 15.5 x 14.5 cm

It's slightly cooler- just about tolerable, therefore- to drive to the mountains and do some work.

 When painting you are very alone. Your're in this arena against the subject and your own worst instincts. You just have your paints and and your thoughts as weapons, and you have to be determined, or very lucky to win. Or sometimes you have to know when it's right to cede defeat and abandon the work. Clarity of mind is everything, and that's why solitude is so essential, as is the right mental state to begin: humility, courage, stoicism...