Tuesday, 30 April 2013


This is a new painting I’ve completed (I think) in the last few days. I wanted to post it at the end of what has been a productive month in the studio, with the beginnings of some new edgelands inspired work such as this, and the new drawings.

In case you are wondering what this unusual image represents, it’s a group of parked HGV lorries reflected in the canal at night. The painting has been developed from a recent photograph, and I was attracted to the image’s formal, abstract arrangement. It reminded me of earlier Modernist paintings such as those by William Scott, or some of the St Ives painters. Only grittier. The canal, not the sea.

It was also painted differently, built up and rubbed back down to an underpainted bright red ground, which is something I’ve not done in a long time, preferring to work from white up. Making the pastels on coloured paper grounds lead me to try this, and I’ve really enjoyed rubbing back the paint to reveal the red, as much as applying the paint itself. It gives the painting a deeper lustre and depth, although that’s not that apparent in this photograph. It’s good not to cling too tightly to habits of working…

Friday, 26 April 2013

More Drawing....

‘They look too rushed-you can’t take those to the gallery’, my wife said as I showed her my new drawings on Saturday, just as I was about to take them to the gallery. ‘You’ve got to think, ‘Are people going to want to buy those?’ Somewhat defeated ( I never think about whether someone is going to want to buy them when I make something) I took them back to the studio, pinned them back up and over the next few days spent many hours refining them, and pushing them much further, trying to get greater depth in the colours, and also simplifying them. I tended to work across all of them at the same time. I also made some new ones such as the one above, which I am pleased with. This is a view of an enormous pile of pallets behind a wall seen and reflected in the canalside.

In my defense (your honour), it is not so much that they were rushed, but more that they were my first attempts to develop some new work from my recent trip to the motorway outside Oldbury. In my experience, it can take a long time to ‘key’ into ways of translating the imagery into drawing, and their rough quality reflected this. Also, working to order for the gallery, is just not something I’m used to so I felt quite a bit of pressure too in what was already a stressful time at work last week during an Ofsted visit. Still, at the end of the day, the missus was right as usual, and when I took them to the gallery on Wednesday I felt much happier with them. They seemed pleased too.
It was good to get back to the studio, and sweep up all the pastel dust, but strange and unsettling to have completed such a chunk of work, and it to have it disappeared from the walls no sooner than it was made…

Friday, 19 April 2013


pastel on paper, 31 x 42cms

I’ve been working on these new drawings for Park View Art Gallery in the last few evenings. It has been an intense week, with an Ofsted visit at work, so lots of pressure, and trying to do these in those circumstances has been difficult. I’ve made about eight so far, trying not to think too much about it, and not sure if I liked them at all, but with the last couple I think some things are beginning to shape up. The more I do, the more able I feel to begin to make decisions about what I do and don’t like in the imagery, but also how to manipulate the media, in this case pastel, more successfully. Some of them are quite small, which are the ones I like working on best. I enjoy the intimacy of working on this scale., and things become more simplified, but they are complicated little drawings to deal with.
 pastel on paper, 31 x 42cms
pastel on paper, 21 x 32cms
pastel on paper, 21 x 31cms
pastel on paper, 31 x 21cms
pastel on paper, 21 x 31cms

Of course, the gallery may not like them, but I can’t think about those issues….