Wednesday, July 26, 2017



Southern Scotland

 I have decided to include the charming town of Melrose on my British trip: 

London- Berwick - Melrose -Alloa -Edinburgh- London

There is something mysterious about the Borders to me.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rocks, Guarda Do Embaú


Rocks, Guarda do Embaú, oil on card, 18 x 21 cm


Sunday, July 16, 2017

A drive to Urussanga and Anitapolis


 Woodland and fields, between Urussanga and Orleans
 oil on card, 16.5 x 14.5 cm

 Homestead, late afternoon, between Urussanga and Orleans
 oil on card, 18 x 16.5 cm

This, above, works well.

 Woodland, São Ludgero, oil on card, 15 x 18.3 cm

 Little house, near Anitapolis, oil on card. 15 x 18 cm 

I am attempting to create a style that is bolder and less ridden with equivocation. I feel that my mountain pictures are particularly prone to this fussiness. I think I am trying too hard. That may be because I am in awe of the subject, and therefore unable to respond with creative freedom. I need to find another approach. 

A fine painter of mountains is Bomberg: I must try to get a catalogue of his work.


I took the wrong road from Anitapolis north, going to Alfredo Wagner by the most tortuous and at times muddy track. The views were fantastic, but I nearly damaged my car, and it took forever. Thank God it wasn't raining. I should have taken the paved road to Rancho Queimado. When I realised my error I had already driven already for 15 minutes and  didn't imagine that the way ahead would become so difficult.

I'd intended to stay another night in the mountains but I came back, exhausted by that drive. There is little to do in the mountain towns at night. You just sit somewhere and read and eat hotdogs because there aren't any proper restaurants and wonder what the hell you are doing there. But I like that emptiness sometimes.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Guarda do Embaú


 Guarda do Embaú, red boat, oil on card, 17.5 x 18 cm

Guarda do Embaú, a view, oil on card,  17 x 18.5 cm

Here are two simple paintings from Guarda do Embaú.

 They were painted on the new easel: the new easel  doesn't provide the use of a surface to mix paints on. And, being less stable, it encourages the making of larger pictures because it is less easy to paint delicately using it. So now I mix the colours up in advance and apply them in broader areas, instead of mixing things up as I go along then apply them systematically.

In such ways do the  limitations of an artist's equipment serve to alter his artistic style- serendipitously so in my case, as I had been seeking a way to open and brighten the pictures  à la Fauvist Braque for some time.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

British Trip. late September


Both maps taken from the Cavellini School Room map of the British Isles

I'm pleased to say that I shall be going to the UK in September for just over two weeks- a trip which will include London. Berwick, Edinburgh and Alloa, near Stirling. I shell go painting in Greenwich, or opposite. It's  one of the few places in London that offers good views for painting.

Lothian, Fife, Berwick and around

I am especially pleased to get to know Berwick better as I have so often passed on the train and swooned at its wonderful location. And I shall enjoy visiting nearby Lindisfarne too.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

A settlement near Palhoça; new easel


A settlement near Palhoça, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

This was painted using the new easel- it's less sturdy than the old one, and it is a disadvantage not being able to lay the tubes of paint out so easily. It toppled over once, and the wind caught the picture.

I think I can deal with such challenges but I might have to find a way of painting more simply than previously, using fewer different colours or perhaps pre-selecting them prior to working.

Easel- at times wobbly


New easel


I've been using a half width French easel by Mabef for some time. 

Mabef easel

It's developed quite a few problems having broken in many parts. I've had to replace straps, closing latch and a leg that split. Part of the support for pictures has snapped off and part of the tray broke. Mabef should be ashamed of themselves for using cheapo fittings and materials and putting such shoddily made easels on the market.

In addition it was rather heavy, meaning that walking more than a few miles with it became tiring.

This is its replacement: a plastic workman's DIY box fixed onto a lightweight photographers easel. It's considerably lighter:

Home made easel

But there are disadvantages: it lacks the drawer of the French easel, which was useful to use as a support for a palette. Also, it holds the painting surface less firmly, so that when you are painting there is a slight spring from the support. I will have to adapt my technique to accommodate this.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bushwick Park, Brooklyn, New York


 Near Cooper Street, Brooklyn, oil on card, 17.5 x 15.2 cm

This, above, is  one of the best of the bunch.  The colours are fresh, harmonious and original. The picture was painted fast but isn't slapdash. 

It's pretty much what I worked to make: I recall that when I arrived I had this sense of irritation about how fussy my work had become and how I wanted to remove all its fiddly details and make something assured, elegant and fresh- on the  back of New York's architectural boldness.

I harboured the desire to create pictures with a similar confidence, giving the same satisfactions as such typography as this:

 Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn, oil on card, 12 x 14 cm

The grand terraces remind me of Glasgow.

 A view from Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn, oil on card, 16.5 x 18 cm  SOLD

Looking down from the roof,  Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn
 oil on card, 17.5 x 15.5 cm

Painted from the rooftop (above), this is almost a remaking of a painting from Queens five years ago: this one large and more unruly. I think this sort of pictures chimes a lot stylisically and thematically with Joan Eardley.

A view from Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn, oil on card, 16.5 x 18 cm


Williamsburg, New York City


Disused sugar factory, Williamsburg, oil on card, 16 x 18.5 cm

Buildings near Marcy Avenue, Williamsburg, oil on card, 17.5 x 17 cm

 Myrtle and Dekalb, Yellow bus, oil on card, 15 x 18.3 cm

 Myrtle and Dekalb, oil on card, 16 x 17 cm

I find this painting effective and even beautiful.


Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York


Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, oil on card, 17 x 18 cm

This was painted just south of Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn., the weather dismal. 

I love the ubiquitous deep red-brown-maroon colour seen in buildings in New York.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Central Park, New York


Baseball, Central Park, N. Y., oil on card, 15.5 x 14 cm

 Yellow tree, Central Park, N. Y., oil on card, 15.5 x 14.5 cm

I am very pleased with this one (above) which seems to have a certain freedom about it.

 Bridge, Central Park, N. Y., oil on card, 17 x 17 cm

A boat on pond, Central Park, N. Y., oil on card, 17 x 15 cm

 Trees , Central Park, N. Y., oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

Dog, Central Park, N. Y., oil on card, 16 x 13.5 cm

This is quite a nice set. I relaxed when working and the result is apparent. It's so important to be in a certain frame of mind when working. 

It's a characteristic of dilettantes that they wait for that mood to arrive and do not work towards it from whatever mental set in which they might find themselves. I suppose this is a truism for all jobs that require psychological sensitivity or imagination. Of course there will always be days when things really aren't going to go your way and it's better to give in and go to the cinema, but those days are few proportionally speaking and usually such negative moods can be "worked through".

Nonethless, environment matters: painting when someone is watching you is not helpful or fun. Observation doing any activity will  turn it into a performance, making it much more difficult, even impossible for the subject to follow whatever trains of thought they might have.

With this in mind, I am reconsidering going to Morocco, as the level of nuisance and scrutiny from passersbys there is unpleasant, and doesn't help me at all. Instead I might do further explorations of Scotland.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chinatown and Two Bridges, New York City


New York: Two Bridges, oil on card, 17 x 17 cm

This (above) is one of the best of the New York set-  confident, fresh and clear.

 New York: Red buildings in Two Bridges, oil on card, 17.5 x 17 cm

New York: Allen Street,  oil on card, 18.3 x 16.2 cm

These were painted on two visits to this windy area, the first time merry, the second detestable, full of frustrations as the palettes blew all over the place. I wanted to develop a style which was unfussy, to use the blockiness of New York to become bolder.


New York, conclusions


Arch, Washington Square, June 2017, oil on card, 17 x 18.8 cm

This is rather a jigsaw puzzle painting isn't it? It`s the third  time I've painted this arch.



New York- the complete set from 2017

 The set is strong and simple but I will not probably revisit New York for a few years. I need time to forget New York, so that when I do return it`s qualities surprise me again.


This is my list made before leaving for New York and my reflections-

1. CIMA  (Centre for Italian Modern Art) in Broome Street, Manhattan. De Chirico show and talk. 
This talk in the CIMAs elegant setting was excellent, and provided a chance to discuss and make        sense of de Chirico`s late (and very questionable)  paintings. I am still not convinced by them, they seem to serve only to illustrate the confidence of his earlier work, but the talk was informative. 

2. Go to the Metropolitan Museum

This magnificent, sprawling collection, should require no introduction. I was particularly impressed by Dutch 14th century portraits this time, and also enjoyed the following (I have not listed media or sizes- this information can be found on the Met`s excellent website):

 Whistler, Cremorne Gardens No. 2, 1870-80

Whistler, as ever a curious artist, often seems ambivalent about his own presence. He knows, perhaps, that his own egoism is somewhat untasteful.

Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, George Bingham. 1845

The Arrival in Bethlehem
 Attributed to Master LC (Netherlandish, active second quarter 16th century)

I admired the grandeur of the artists vision, the sinuous lines used to lead the eye across and into the landscape and to create three dimensions.

 Pierre Bonnard, Garden, 1935

Georges Braque The Studio (Vase before a Window) - detail, 1939

What I liked here, in the V patterns on the chair seat was the confident spontanaity with which I perceived Braque to be enjoying creating patterns using tonal variations of colour.

Georges Braque, The Studio (Vase before a Window), 1939

 Georges Braque, Boats on the Beach at L'Estaque, 1906

 I similarly enjoyed the sense of paint being cheerfully dabbed to depict the town- the corresponding pleasure and delight in both the scene and  method.

 Henri Matisse, The goldfish Bowl, 1921  22

 The ease in this picture and the metaphor of the goldfish, the art object serving to the viewer as the goldfish serve to the inhabitants of the room.

  Leon Bakst, Design for the Set of the Ballet 'Narcisse', premiered at the Théatre de Monte Carlo, 1911

Leon Bakst Design for a Stage Set for the Ballet 'Le Donne de Buon Umore’ (The Good Humored Ladies), premiered in Rome, April 12, 1917

There was a display of work by the ballet scenographer- scenes with such sensual presence.

I enjoyed the dance between abstraction and depiction in these Chinese ceramics, the use of colour and their pleasure giving objectives

 Jean Dubuffet Woman Grinding Coffee, 1945

His work could be contrived but I don`t think it is, there is too much basic enjoyment of the paint effects.

Stuart Davis, Jefferson Market, New York, 1930

I don`t think this picture (above) works compositionally but it is interesting to speculate why.

Marsden Hartley, Cemetary New Mexico, 1925

I find a lot of Marsden Hartley`s work awkward and unresolved. This painting by contrast make a grand and certain impression on me.

3.The Whitney Museum

The Biennial (mainly junk) was on. In this context the the permanent collection`s set of works by  Calder contrast with wit and grace. I did not note down their titles.

I also enjoyed paintings by James Castle, which have great intensity. The architecture of the museum is very nice, but the place is expensive to visit and mostly not very rewarding. 

The view from the Whitney.



4. Painting in Chinatown

I produced three fine pictures here, (in fact they were from Two Bridges). The grandeur of the bug Deco blocks contrasts so well with the squalour and filth below.

5. American Folk Art Museum

This one I failed to tick off.

6. TJ Maxx- get shoes and maybe clothes?

An exhausting experience,. I managed to get shoes, however.

7. Buy Art Materials from Blick

An excellent shop with a fine range of oil paints. I have materials now for the next year or so.

8. Eat American breakfast

Failed to achieve. There wasn`t a classic American diner near my place and the idea fell off the radar.

9. Eat KFC

This was even better than i imagined it would be. KFC is easily the King of Junk food.

10. Painting in Central Park

I spent two happy days in the sun here. The schools were out and the families with their children were pleasant to chat to.

11. Painting in Brooklyn.

This was my main subject, Somehow I feel that I didn`t feel as awed by the subject as i`d expected- perhaps I was here too recently and this is the downside of familiarity.

12. Bookshopping maybe.

I visited many fine bookshops including Molasses Books, Human Relations, and Spoonbill and Sugertown in Brooklyn, Sterns and X. Very enjoyable.

 My purchases included this excellent work tracing the career of the Italian painter- much less of a recluse than one might have been led to understand, and whose career was more successful than I had understood partly because of the assistance of various Fascist affiliated organisations.

 His level of production was far higher than I`d imagined. For instance, in 1941 he painted twenty four landscapes and thirty-five still lives. 

Giorgio Morandi,The Art of Silence, by Janet Abramowicz
 Yale University Press, 2004