The unvarnished collection

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3 responses to this post.

  1. I clicked for larger, then again for largest. And lo, it was like taking a privileged look into your sock drawer. In the top right-hand corner of your uppermost pic, the vestigial green overlay on the blue becomes far more apparent and echoes the similar yet more pronounced effect lower down on the left-hand side. Given the straight-edge nature of the painting this deliberate vagueness seems almost subversive, as if you are whispering: See, I can do other things. Leaving me thinking about acts of disclosure and how they differ from outright statements.

    In 7½ hours GMT you’ll be off to church and aferwards, if the weather’s not too frightful, you’ll chat to people before going home to lunch. I try to imagine the tone of that sort of chat, whether it will be informed by things inside the church or whether everyone will make determined efforts to ignore what they’ve experienced. As Eliot says, the English are mainly irreligious but are endlessly fascinated by those who profess some sort of faith. Tis true. One of my short stories centres on a man who lacks faith but is required to accompany his girl-friend (temporarily in a wheel-chair) to matins; once he sang in a church choir (as I did, though this is not me) and his thoughts are driven by interleaved lines from the sung litany. Why did this scene catch my imagination? Perhaps it’s an act of disclosure. If so the reasons remain buried.


    • I suppose my paintings are akin to your writing in that they live differently in the minds of different beholders. The only things I’m whispering(to myself of course) while painting something like those two blue/green areas are “does this please me?” and “might it please others?”. The whole act of painting is about “doing other things” up until the painting is declared finished, abandoned, or (it happens) destroyed. I start with a few lines, as purely instinctively as I can, and then add to them in ways that I find pleasing. If there is a drawing (there usually is, more or less) there tends to be a great deal of erasing, as I attempt to remedy what I perceive as visual problems or (unwanted) discord. Same with the painting. A great deal of the painting you refer to has been overpainted a number of times. The larger olive ovoid (I’m going to make an outright statement and call this “the pregnant belly”) was once a third gold “fish”, but I eventually realized that the three fish in a row did not please me. I solved the problem.The curving lines of the “fish” are remnants of curving lines that were much more extensive. The original drawing gave me many more “shapes” to choose from, and much of the detail of that drawing was obliterated in the painting process. As I’ve said, I find titling a painting one of the most difficult aspects. Once i latch onto a reference point (in this case it was fish, derived from linear suggestions to myself) I struggle to maintain the instinctive aspect of painting. I find myself trying to fulfill the promise of the “title” and often begin disappointing myself with the look of the painting. Another problem with titling is that I feel it may lead a viewer away from an impression they might have formed more intuitively. I do strive to make things look intriguing, to end up with something that has a certain amount of “presence”. So: a series of self imposed problems begets the hopefully interesting “solution”. Thanks for deep clicking Robbie. I’ll post my latest. Untitled (though I may update with some of the (as always) many “working titles”.


  2. Though I was already aware of it I am reminded you encompass two worthwhile, if normally conflicting, skills: an instinct for the visual and an ability to describe the associated processes. Normally the one precludes the other.

    I’m disinclined to suggest titles. As you point out our reactions to paintings differ. It would be wrong for my view to prevail (as a title); I am merely a passer-by, of no account. However dissatisfied you are with your own title, that’s the one that should be attached. Be guided by that other enthusiasm of yours, a sympathy for technology, where numerals outweigh words. Consider numbering the paintings and then painting the spelled-out numbers. A new version of having your cake and eating it.


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