Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Station Wagon Painting

oil on canvas, 75 x 60cms
So following on from the drawings in the last post I have spent some time working on this painting in the last week or so. I sort of collapsed the drawing when I came to the painting, which is what I often do, to move the painting into it’s own thing. It’s like kicking away the scaffolding if you like. It’s a painting that presented me with a few problems, in particular the stripes of the railings, which are things I’m not very good (or patient) with. I had thought about a few ways of doing them, but in the end I painted them in my usual direct manner inspired by the bands and stripes in Terry Frost and Patrick Heron’s paintings, which I’ve been looking at. 

I didn’t quite get there though, but I’m not too worried. I’m more worried if things look too refined. I did work further on them but not too much. 

I’m aware it’s pretty different to the more expressive paintings I’ve made lately which seem more obviously indebted to the abstraction of Frost or Heron etc, but I’m letting the work lead me rather than the other way round. I’ve had it commented that my motorway paintings have echoes of Edward Hopper, but, although I can see why it is made I’m not that keen on the comparison,. I’m much more interested in the language of abstract painting than the figuration of someone like Hopper. Hopper leaves me cold for all sorts of reasons really. 
Chuck Close does not paint Station Wagon paintings
I also know if I had made the painting much bigger (it’s about 75cms high) I could have painted those stripes much more surely, feeling much more comfortable working larger and physically, from the shoulder not the wrist. I’ve been making a lot of applications to commercial galleries lately, however. I’m trying to make a more determined effort to get a foothold in working with commercial galleries and make a move away from the public and artist-run exhibition spaces I feel I’ve done a bit to death in the last twenty years. These have been great of course, but can be very limiting and exhausting too after a while. I want to seek fresher opportunites and challenges. And scale seems to be an issue that keeps occurring when it comes to the spaces many of these commercial galleries have. They prefer smaller or mid-scale (say a metre and a half across) paintings, so I’m trying to take this more seriously and develop more work of this size. I’m aware of how Chuck Close, a favourite painter, derogatorily describes paintings of this size as ‘station wagon paintings’, and hate to think this might be some sort of compromise, but until I find that New York studio and New York gallery with enormous walls, I need to think about the types of galleries I’m applying for in provincial England. 
Jo Brown, 'Walking The Coast', oil and acrylic on canvas, 100 x 100cms
Most of my gallery applications have disappeared into the digital void, but one has borne fruit I’m pleased to say. The Cupola Gallery in Sheffield has expressed an interest in my work and are keen to exhibit some of it. I’ve got to contact the director, Karen Sherwood, in a couple of weeks to discuss things further. It’s a well-regarded gallery that shows some great work, including a painter I admire, Jo Brown, who I briefly worked with years ago when I was based in Yorkshire.  I’m really pleased at this prospect of showing there and think I could learn a lot from the experience and Karen Sherwood herself, who writes a really interesting blog on the gallery website (see links below). Let’s hope it works out.

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