Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Midlake at Birmingham Town Hall

Wow! I just thought I’d blog briefly about how great Midlake were last night at Birmingham Town Hall. Despite their beardy Americana amiability with their seven man line-up they were a really powerful presence across the stage. The band included five guitarists who between them explored a real diverse range of guitar playing; it was really exciting, as different members took their turn to play solos that were at times like Jimi Hendrix, the next Richard Thompson. But somehow it was never showy, it just seemed to serve the music brilliantly. The rich, textural sound of their folk-rock, for want of a less naff term, seemed to reveal great depths live-I loved it. It was also great to see the flute in rock reclaimed from Jethro Tull! I also found myself reflecting how contemporary the lyrics were. Some may find their pastoral 'getting back to nature' essence a bit sixties or hippy-like, but for me the ideas expressed about seeking different ways of living seemed really relevant in these climate changing times.

The atmosphere was great too. I’ve been to the Town Hall a few times now, and the artists always seem to get a great reception, but Brummies do love their music. If you have chance to see them on the rest of the tour, you must go. And if you haven’t got ‘The Courage of Others’, their new album, or ‘The Trial Of Van Occupanther’, the previous one, well shame on you…

'Branches and Leaves',
oil on canvas, 60 x 120cms, 2010

This new painting above, ‘Branches and Leaves’, was inspired a bit by ‘The Courage of Others’, as I listened to the records themes of the struggles with nature as I worked on it. I wanted to capture a similar air of melancholy and disconnectedness that seems to pervade the music. I'm not sure what I've made with this one, but that feels like a good thing right now...

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Midlands Fights Back...

Zhang Peng, 'Gold Fish'
C-Type Print at 'Party', New Art Gallery Walsall

Having enjoyed yet another good exhibition at the great New Art Gallery Walsall yesterday, I came home to find this interesting link I’ve added below which was sent to me by Created In Birmingham about a recent article in The Independent. It’s good to see the Midlands fight back to what was obviously some lazy London-centric journalism. Lovely stuff.
Just imagine the Goldfish as Rosie Millard and the little girl as the people of Walsall!

Sunday, 14 February 2010


oil on canvas, 60 x 150cms, 2009

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve sold my first painting solely from the buyer first seeing it on my website this weekend. ‘Endings’, above, has been a painting that many people have positively commented on since I posted it on the site last year and was recently exhibited at Tregoning Fine Art in Derby. But it has only been now that someone has gone that stage further and bought it.

Buying a painting for the home can be a big commitment, so they ‘trialled’ it in their house for a week to see whether they could live with it. I’m glad to say they could, and I’m going to help install it tomorrow. If anyone else wants to ‘trial’ a painting they’ve seen on the website, I think it’s a sensible idea that I’m happy to negotiate. Just let me know…

Friday, 5 February 2010

Magic Moments...

…you turn to load the brush once more with pigment, turning slightly away from the painting momentarily, turn back to it once more to make one more mark and then you suddenly realise…oh… it’s done. Completed. In that moment you turned away it seems to have completed itself without your knowing. You can’t see what needs doing anymore. And it’s not because you don’t know what to do, it’s because it just doesn’t need anything more.

I’ve been painting all afternoon and had one of those rare moments today. I’d been really struggling with it, but then it sort of revealed itself. It all sounds a bit mystic doesn’t it, and it sort of is, but I just hope it doesn’t sound pretentious. Those who paint, or those who create anything, will know what I mean…Whether it’s actually any good or not, well, that’s a different question…

I had a good day yesterday too. I was in London with the students at JCC visiting the National Portrait Gallery and the V & A Museum. I particularly enjoyed the Tudor portraits at the NPG. I really like the awkward, stiff poses, and a flatter, more graphic look to many of the sitters. Many of the artists are anonymous, which adds to the almost na├»ve, folk art quality of many of the portraits (I’m not sure why the artists are anonymous, as they are paintings of such famous historical figures, but have a suspicion that I should do)

Catherine of Aragon,
Unknown Artist
oil on canvas, 90 x 60cms, 2005
These paintings, and other early Medieval portraits, have always been a big influence on my own portraits, over more modern inspirations.