Saturday, 23 May 2015

Wreck On The Highway

Charcoal on paper

Abandoned on the side road that snakes around the back of the college where I work there is currently a burnt out shell of a car. It is just a hollowed out shell too, with nothing remaining of the insides and barely anything left of the wheels. I was shocked when I first encountered it, as one can’t but project all sorts of grim and violent narratives onto such an object. I found myself compelled to take a few photographs of it as a record, wondering, I must admit, if such a thing had any potential to be developed into a painting that had a place in this current series that is evolving about abandoned vehicles. Not coming across scenes like this very often, it seemed to good an opportunity not to record it before it was removed.

I was surprised to see it still there nearly two weeks later, and decided to visit the site again under cover of darkness to take some further photographs of it illuminated under the streetlight above. I’ve started now to attempt some drawings from these, above which is one of them, to explore whether it has any potential as a subject. I’m aware that it is a bit extreme, which is not something I am normally attracted to.  It just seems to fit right now, and that’s enough. I don’t think it’s good to analyse things while you are making them. There should be some mystery. 
 John Salt, 'Desert Wreck', airbrushed paint on canvas, 1972
Andy Warhol, 'Green Car Crash', silkscreen on canvas, 1963

Of course, I’m reminded of John Salt’s photo-realist paintings of car wrecks in American trailer parks, or even Andy Warhol’s paintings of car crashes, so I’m in good company.

And of course the title for this post references Springsteen’s great and bleak song of the same name from the magnificent ‘The River’ album. Side two of that record has many dark songs, including ‘Stolen Car’ which I referenced in my recent exhibition at Rugby Museum and Art Gallery.

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Anticipation

'Cargo', oil on canvas, 60 x 90cms, 2015
I have completed these two paintings in the last few weeks. Things seem to be getting a bit bolder and more expressive, particular in the handling and the colour. I’m also currently creating a brand new website that will replace this one soon, which is looking so out of date now.  I’m going to be including more records of all my paintings over the last twenty or so years, so it will be much more extensive than this one and hopefully feel a bit more generous. It’s been a lot of fun putting it together so far and a bit of a journey selecting all the older work. It’s interesting to see the connections across the newer stuff with the work I was making in my twenties. Anyway, you obviously can’t really know what I’m talking about until I launch it in a couple of weeks. All will be revealed…
'Under The Bridge', oil on canvas, 120 x 120cms, 2015

This is keeping me busy and I’ve put my brushes down for a bit of a break from the studio. I’ve felt really involved in these truck paintings lately and need a breather. The forthcoming election is also occupying my thoughts a great deal, and at this point in time doing my head in, as they say.

In between this I’m enjoying reading Richard Ford’s ‘The Sportswriter’ (published 1986). I’m finding I relate to the character of Frank Bascombe, our erstwhile writing of sporting events, a great deal, which is not all good if you have read the book, but not however, in his loss of what he describes as ‘the anticipation’: this being ‘the sweet pain to know whatever’s next- a must for any real writer’. When he lost his own desire aged 25 he happily decided to apply his skills to being a sportswriter instead, to him, a more jobbing and businesslike profession, which replaced this sense of loss for the anticipation in the routine of writing articles and reviews. Whilst looking back over all the work I have done in painting whilst constructing this website it’s clear I have never lost the anticipation myself, and have spent most of my adult life continually wrestling with the ‘sweet pain’.

However, I think I have lost the anticipation with writing this blog in the last few months, and wonder with the launch of the new website whether it is time to call it a day…