I first came across this painting years ago.  It was on the front cover of a book of short fiction stories; stories which inspired me so much I ended up doing a degree in Literature a few years later.  Starting to read fiction led to a lot more than I had ever imagined it would!   This painting was the reason I picked up the book initially, and how lovely to see it in the flesh at the Tate Britain recently.  What a masterpiece it is!  It was painted at the height of the First World War by Gertler who was a conscientious objector.  To transform a merry go round into a military machine is a masterstroke in itself.  He explained, ‘Lately the whole horror of war has come freshly upon me’.

 

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Indulging in a little memory today, a wonderful trip to Tate Britain last month with two delightful artist friends.  We laughed and chatted so much we very nearly got thrown out…It’s so hard to be quiet and funeral like when there is work to discuss, responses to paintings and other creations, good company, and the extra bonus of having a wheelchair for one friend, which I have never driven before, and of course I took great delight in various maneovers and variations in speed. 

 What is this dowdy silence, sobre hush;  is this a funeral parlour or an art gallery?  Yes, some moderation is always a good thing, but I just don’t get the lack of discussion…Apart from those official talkers, why is there so little talking going on?  Are people afraid to make themselves look uninformed?  What is this cerebal matter, this dominance of educated discourse? 

At least the text which accompanies the work at the Tate Britain is clear and straightforward.  I am still reeling with a recent traumatic reading experience endured when hoping to find out about an artist’s work to be exhibited in a local University’s gallery.  The text was a creation in itself, for sure, but a completely seperate creation from that of the work, because it was so dense in concept that it didn’t really need the work, and the work seemed much better without it too.  Sometimes it’s interesting to know what a piece means to the artist, but do I really need to know?  It seems to me that we are infected by a scientific approach to visual expressions which murder the eye before it has opened. 

Like that….”Words Which Murder The Eye Before It Has Opened” 

LOVE this painting “Casement To Infinity” by Leon Underwood.  I have not come across him before.  The use of colour is excellent, and as I toy with the idea of trying out some more figurative painting myself I read about the artist:

“…he felt, and would feel increasingly, that a neglect of subject matter was to the detriment of art, and that the embrace of abstraction for its own sake simply led to greater and greater differentiation between art and artists and an ordinary life as lived by the majority.”

 

Being keen to spend more time drawing, and wanting to use the time I have more efficiently, I have realised that to be able to sketch while standing up or walking along might well be an activity which serves me well. I have spent some time thinking through practicalities, and have come up with a few ideas to try out.

I purchased a little plastic container, with lid, which includes a clip from a local DIY store, it’s made for tools, but it’s idea for putting Neocolours, pencils, brushes, or whatever you are using in. It clips onto your jeans or a pocket; it’s very handy. Alternatively, I plan to try out an old camera case…it’s made for a camera with a long zoom lens and has a belt which goes around the waist. That might be better when walking, as it’s a bit more robust. You can buy tiny little watercolour boxes (complete with a thumb ring) if you want to use paint while on the move. I prefer to use Neocolour watersoluble wax crayons, because I like to use them dry and wet, but I think I will try the small watercolour tin option at some point. Alternatively I have also thought of making a small mobile palette using an old CD case…This would work by one squeezing a little amount of watercolour from tubes onto the inside, and then using the centre as a mixing area. You could hold this near the top of your sketch pad quite easily, and with some water in your tool carrier and brush in hand, you’d be away!

Oh, ideas! Ideas! It’s pleasant to escape with even thoughts of painting right now, as life’s circumstances seem to be working against any painting…I am getting some drawing done though. As I have spent a lot of time recently experimenting with acrylics and various mediums and techniques, my experiments have resulted in a lot of non objective painting, with interesting textures and colours but no explicit subject matter. I see this as a necessary activity, but not one which I will continue with forever. There are so many technical possibilities with acrylic paint, it is quite exciting, but I find emotionally I feel much more bonded to oil paint. Using acrylic underpainting with oil on top might be the way forward for me. Certainly it solves the problem I currently have with regard to drying space for my paintings. I normally have about ten paintings on the go at one time, and ten oil paintings do take up quite a bit of space, even if they are small.

Many thanks to the Admin at Surrey Artists Network, it is lovely to be a “Featured Artist” on such an excellent website.  Since it started just over a year ago, the Surrey Artists Network has grown to become quite a crowd…artists based in and around Surrey are suddenly able to stick their noses into other artists activities,  view others work through the excellent “Photos”  facility, and generally have a lot of fun, and waste a bit of time if they feel like it, chin wagging over the net.  Take a look!   http://www.surreyartistsnetwork.net/

Here in Chessington I am feeling a very strong reflective mood coming on…I’ve just prepared some hardboard with different mixtures for grounds, and I am looking forward to trying out some different surfaces to work on.  I often find that preparing ground is a good activity when I am feeling a bout of spiritual contemplation coming on.  I have come across a very interesting book “Open To God” by Brother Bernard “An Anglican Franciscan and Guardian of Hilfield Friary, Dorchester”.  I do not know if he is alive right now, because the book isn’t new,( my husband found it at a charity shop), but it looks very interesting.  I also have a couple of “Art In Theory” Anthologies which I like to dip into when my brain needs something to chew over.  Most of all, right now, I feel the need for a bit of a retreat, because I have pushed ahead with my painting with great effort over the Summer, and now I have a lot of feelings and thoughts to mull over.

 The problem with painting is its possibilities.  Limitless. Powerful. This scares me.  But as long as it doesn’t scare me enough to stop me stepping over the cliff every time I pick up a paintbrush then it does not have to be a problem.  As for the ideas…that’s another issue.  I have too many, I can’t realise them all.     

I went to the Tate Britain on Friday.  Loved watching a Henry Moore video….and glad a of comfortable chair to watch it in.  Spent most time looking at a painting by Peter Lanyon and also another by Sandra Blow.  I have not come across their work up until now, so I enjoyed this, and did a little research looking at more of their work and life afterwards.

Oh, how pleasing. My painting  (Apple Orchard)  has been accepted for the Surrey Artists Network 1st Anniversary Exhibition! After quite an adventure getting it to the gallery ( which involved me and one child on one train to Guildford, and my husband and other child on a different train)  I am particularly pleased.  There is so much wonderful artistic talent in Surrey; it is exciting and interesting to see what other artists are exploring and the vast variety of their work. Do pop along to the Otters Pool Studio in Guildford and take a look at the work on show if you are in the area. I think they may need to rotate the exhibition, as there is more art than space, but what a great problem to have, eh?!  Image is of Apple Orchard

My pottery course is coming to a slow and gradual end…I have to stop it soon (for a while)as my painting is the main focus at present. It has been a revelation to me…it’s achieved its mission, which was to bring me back to a greater sensitivity with a physical material…necessary because of several years spent with manipulating images digitally. It is also interesting to me with regard to the type of forms which seem to flow from me…shell-like, fossil-type sculptural objects. The next image shows one in progress.

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