A visit to the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition, An interesting Interview with Caroll Michel and Drifting into Autumn with The Ark Centre Autumn Exhibition, Basingstoke.
October 2, 2012
I have been helped a great deal by the writing of Caroll Michel and this interview makes interesting hearing.
Some beautiful painting here by painter Michael Sole:
I tend to start playing around on the computer at this time of year, researching, thinking, reflecting over the year which draws to its end. Haven’t painted for a while, but this isn’t a bad thing, it’s good. Because the thinking and reflecting is very important in painting. Now I take a seat with the work in front of me and ask “So what have you got to teach me?” “What are you saying?” “Why is it important” and “Where will you take me from here?” In working through the process of the work again, this time from a distance, I can realise a lot of things which I wasn’t aware of when painting. It’s quite exciting. There is always so much more. Experiment and explore. That’s the whole point. Here is one stage in a recent painting “Surviving Houses/47 Nelson Square”
Above, the painting in progress. I tend to work in a piecemeal fashion. It gives plenty of time for thinking and looking, as well as applying the paint.
And here is the final version:
I keep putting “Nelson Road” instead of ”Nelson Square”…!! I’ve gone through the text and corrected, I think!
It’s quite interesting looking back on the past stages of a painting. Like watching someone struggle up a mountainside or negotiate their way somewhere without a map. I had to prepare some blurb for entering the painting into another competition, so here it is:
“ I deliberately kept this process led painting as organic in conception as possible, drawing on my own subconscious in an attempt to locate some of my most central concerns, emotions, and thinking. My work on personal past trauma through weekly sessions of psychotherapy at the Guild of Psychotherapists (47 Nelson Square ) certainly came through. The intention of the painting is that it conveys the emotional challenge of facing uncertainties and suggests the type of psychological negotiations involved when encountering realities which shift when someone is seeking to open up new ways of thinking and relating.”
I don’t like writing about my paintings much, it is kind of necessary evil in my view. However, it might add interest for someone else. Sometimes it is helpful to pin things down in such a way. (Not as good as talking about the work, not as good as a dialogue though). I think writing in the first person is best, and just being true to oneself. I ask myself “What on earth was I doing and why on earth was I doing it?”. This seems the best, and maybe only question to ask!!!!
Sometimes there is no easy answer!!
Is that OK?
But what does it mean for society? What was your investigation? How is it relevant? What does it MEAN?
Haven’t the foggiest.
Well it doesn’t matter then. If you cannot articulate with words what is going on, then quite clearly nothing is.
Why doesn’t it matter? Why, as a painter, do I need to use words? I write poetry with words. I paint with paint.
Because it’s just a painting. Just itself. It’s not even part of a series. You quite clearly don’t have a focus.
Yes I do.
Working with paint. I have to. Because its part of living. That is enough. I don’t need it to be more. I have a focus, but it is not explicit and it is not clear. But still, there is some point. It is not articulated in words. It is not defined in that way. It’s changeable. I cannot fix it. Sometimes I get a glimpse. That is all I need. I get a glimpse here. I get another glimpse there. I do not have the necessary perspective to know what I am doing entirely. Sometimes I do not know what I am doing. Sometimes I have a sense. That is OK.
I have diverged into an interior imaginary narrative. Quite enjoyable. Must do that again.
I note also, that with many things, what we think we are doing at the time turns out not to be the case. We look back years later and see that what was going on had many different dimensions to it, which we were not aware of. I often look back at past work and see what I was up to in a much clearer way, and also I am able to identify aspects of my work which I did not recognise as important features at the time, but then, seeing how they have been reiterated in different ways, I understand that they are meaningful to me and a significant part of my practice.
So maybe it is wise not to be too prescriptive in the way one speaks about ones work, or at least, whatever you say, realise how ultimately shallow/mistaken/inaccurate or even pointless it might turn out to be. Maybe it is best to let others do the talking if they want to. I am sure I will cringe as I look back in years to come at things I have written and said. However, if we didn’t move on, that would be more of a concern. It may be better to look back and cringe, but at least give yourself a little pat on the back for trying to say what you meant, and just be glad that now you can see a little more of the bigger picture, yet, still, always incomplete. Meandering over!
PS There is a lot to be said for working in a series. But a series doesn’t have to be similar in an obvious way. For example, my recent paintings were painted together, though they diverge in several significant directions. I worked on around 5 at one time and used the same, and similar colours, paints, materials and canvas size. And the same approach. With very diverse results!
I also note that there are what I might call “long-term emergent series” which happen naturally, for example, my photography now has fallen into focus: Black and white, trees, rocks and water, in different images, has gradually developed as my main subject matter, and I could easily make a series by sorting out this strand over the years as it gradually emerged. The preoccupation was there, and slipped itself in gradually, in ever-increasing amounts, without me ever once deciding in a conscious way that this is what I would focus on. And I think it valuable to see that strands in ones work, maybe subject, medium, manner, whatever, are not deliberately tied or arranged too much. It may well convey a more professional front to have rows of paintings which make a harmonious exhibition, and there is a place for this, but I also think that the more sensitive and responsive eye will see the links between works which are not so explicit and obvious.
I popped into The Menier Gallery recently to take a look at the space itself and also to see the exhibitions which are on at the moment. It’s a great space, and I had some lovely chats with various people including Andrew Carnegie, whose paintings were strong in emotional content and very much full of interest for me. I found this lovely video on the net too…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCc-wirk4XU. Oh, let’s embrace the mystery of painting, and take those steps of trust, though we inwardly fear and tremble! Funnily enough, the exhibition downstairs took the title “No More Fear”. I enjoyed that too, in particular the beautiful digital prints of masks.
I am attempting to sketch more and plan to spend the winter months returning to drawing and experimenting with line. Here is a recent sketch, done outside on Leith Hill. What a lovely place that is!
While I love experimenting with abstraction, drawing is essential. My eyes will go blunt if I don’t draw!
Just see the line up for The Ark Centre Autumn Exhibition, so nice to be in it! http://artintheark.wordpress.com/featured-artists-2/autumn-exhibition/ I look forward to looking at the other artist’s work, and what a fantastic show that is going to be! The standard is high…It looks like one of the best assortments of work I have seen for a long time (and I am not just saying that because I am one of the selected, though of course, it slips off the lips more easily). I am hoping like mad I can get to the opening night, but circumstances beyond my control might have a bearing, however, I am hopeful!
I’ve just visited the Threadneedle Painting and Sculpture Prize exhibition at The Mall Galleries, London. I would pick as my favourite painting “Watch the Birdie” by Bev Broadhead. This is fine, indeed. Just beautiful. Hopeful. Hopeful for painting. Hopeful for life. Hopeful full stop! Take a look on the Threadneedle Painting and Sculpture Prize page: http://www.threadneedleprize.com/
I have to say I was disappointed with the majority of the painting on show, the sculpture was far more interesting. Looking on the Threadneedle website it looks like there were some interesting pieces which were not hung or I may have just missed a room by accident. Jaana Fowler – Jug Frame, Cement, brought much appreciation from both myself and my friend. I do LOVE cement sculptures and it’s on the list to experiment with as a material at some point. There were some very excellent drawings, (far more impressive than I encountered recently at the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition) Fran Giffard – One of Every Species found in Hong Kong cage, Graphite Pencil on Paper took my breath away, as did Planar Resonance – Ilse Black, Graphite powder, pencil, charcoal on paper. Always fond of a bit of iron, how delightful to see it used so responsively in the two works by Peter Sainty, both Claw Coupling 3, Cast Iron, and the other Claw part. Just what I like to see…SKILL, achievement. Success! From Success to Defeat, but not in accomplishment. The fine sculpture by Robert Truscott – Defeat, Mixed Media, Plaster, Epoxy Putty, Material on Armature. Looking at each beautifully expressive figure. It restores ones faith. There is no shoddy carelessness in a piece like this. There is a sense of relief to be had in the knowledge that someone is putting such work and devotion into what they do, and creating such emotional resonance with the viewer, as to leave one in no doubt that the visit was well worth it, even if only to see that one piece. David Firmstone – Dreaming 2, Oil on Canvas, was a fine sight to see too.
It is quite interesting to look at the archives of the Threadneedle Paintng and Sculpture Prize, take a look here to see what it was like over the last few years: http://www.threadneedleprize.com/page/3027/Archive
A good read is to be found in the following Art Rated interview. Jonathon Beer interviews David Schnell, a very interesting interview with a fine painter. Again, (as is always the case when I read these interviews, I am very jealous of the studio space, however, he is quite clearly using it for wonderful work, so I can get over it! I have had thoughts regarding perspective and using it in my own painting crop up over the year, particularly with “Yellow Path” which while very basic and crude with respect to brush strokes, did signify a step forward in suggesting some hint at using perspective. I love how David Schnell uses it in his work. Something inspirational there, for sure. http://art-rated.com/?p=659
Yellow Path, below. Primary in every sense of the word, but if it is a step forward, then it’s worth it. The main thing is what is happening over all. Not individual paintings so much. And to move forward, you have to trip, stumble, and rummage your way ahead! I do like what I am experimenting with in terms of colour and space. I’m not keen on the brush strokes and I think it would have been better to use oils, but I am seeing this painting as an exercise. It worked in some respects.
I’ve just finished some inkjet prints for the Dorking Museum shop. I would like to work on some cockerel images and plan to experiment with some of the printed material from the Museum archives over the Winter months. I am not sure exactly when Dorking Museum is about to re-open but I think it is in a couple of weeks. It looks amazing inside, with a fantastic design and wonderful displays. It will be a wonderful learning resource and I have come away with a couple of ideas for some mixed media work on paper, which makes a nice change from the painting I spent my time with over the Summer.
My neighbour has hens, and I have grown rather fond of them, so I have some live models to sketch from too! I LOVE the Dorking Cockerel which is 3.4m high and made from 1 tonne of steel. It’s on the A24/A25 roundabout on the east edge of Dorking, Surrey and you often see it wearing different things from time to time. It was made by Peter Parkinson. See: http://www.baba.org.uk/v/121-Parkinson. There is a very interesting article on the sculpture in Surrey Life: http://surrey.greatbritishlife.co.uk/article/the-dorking-cockerel-has-landed-16997/