Thursday, 31 March 2016

New Edition

Drypoint etching

I was lucky enough to find that Santa (or my wife) brought me a small etching press for Christmas, and this is my first successful print pulled on it. It’s a drypoint etching, and has taken me some time to create: from a detailed cross-hatched drawing, to engraving it on the plate, to then exploring the process of inking and wiping to create a strong print on this new press. It’s taken a few attempts to get anything decent, after much fiddling with the settings on the press, trying different inks, getting the paper the right dampness etc, but last night I finally printed this one. I’m pretty pleased with it.

I have shared a nice day today with my artist friends, Andrew Smith and Hugh Marwood when we visited a new artist gallery and studio, The Artists Workhouse, in Studley, Worcestershire, which is just 25 minutes from Birmingham, with a view to working together to stage an exhibition at the gallery there. We had a good meeting with artist-in-residence and the person responsible for setting up The Artists Workhouse, Dawn Harris and have set a date for the first two weeks in September for an exhibition. I’m really excited by it and am looking forward to planning it with Hugh and Andy over the next few months. 


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Pissed Off

I’m a bit pissed off. Last Friday I decided to withdraw from my forthcoming exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Hire Space Gallery. This was following an e-mail from the gallery explaining that the current refurbishments the gallery is currently undertaking, which are largely in the foyer outside of the Hire Space, are taking longer than expected, and will be continuing during the run of my show in May. As a consequence of this the entrance to the main gallery is closed, making access to the Hire Space much more limited.
Whereas before the Hire Space was the first gallery you saw as you came in, now the main entrance will be found at the other side of the building and the Hire Space only found if you negotiate the signs around the builders, making it now the last place you reach in the gallery, and only if you are that interested. My point being that now any potential audience reach I was hoping to achieve by exhibiting here, particularly with the more casual visitor, has become incredibly limited and has made me question whether it is worthwhile. I have questioned this because it is also not cheap, particularly as an individual artist, at £250 to hire for a month, and not that easy a space to do something with, but I agreed to do it thinking the wide audience reach in a good municipal gallery like this would be worth the cost and effort compared to most of my other exhibitions, where the audience reach is much more limited because they are often in artist-run, off the beaten track venues, found only by those I have invited. I didn’t want this show to be just another one of those (I’ve just done one at Artrix) particularly at such a cost (although they did offer to knock £50 off).  So, feeling messed about by the gallery, I decided I’m not going to do it.
I’m also pissed off as I’ve been working towards creating work just for this exhibition space under what has lately felt a great deal of pressure because of the lack of time I have. Indeed, I started the other two large canvasses I was hoping to exhibit at the show just last week on a bit of a hop and a catch.
A friend, Marian, reminded me last week that it was Degas who said we just make work for ourselves and a few friends. That seems to be the perpetual state I find myself in.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

'The Lie Of The Land'

Recent painting 'Night Trunking' and 'Depot' at Artrix Arts Centre, Bromsgrove, Jan 2016

Earlier in the year, in January, I held an exhibition of my lorry paintings I called, ‘The Lie Of The Land’ at the Artrix Arts Centre in Bromsgrove. 
The venue proved a bit more limited than I remembered, having shown work here before in 2006, but I’m pleased to say the paintings were received really well.    
'Depot' and 'Depot 2'
The more ambiguous images of ‘Depot’ and ‘Depot 2’ (above) seemed to appeal most favourably, which is why I think I want to develop this side of things further, but also the use of colour in ‘Depot 2’, which looked quite apart from the others, seemed to get people excited. I have a good understanding of colour that I don’t think I have been pushing very far in recent years, so this has resolved me to again, set myself new challenges with this in the coming months. 
 'The Machine', oil on canvas, 2015

This painting, ‘The Machine’, also seemed to be very popular in the show in the ‘portraits’ (for that is what I think they are) of different vehicles represented. My friend and fellow artist, Andrew Smith, thought they were self-portraits, and I think there is probably a great deal of truth in that, as we have discussed our feelings of how pointless it all seems sometimes, something I’ve been really feeling in recent months since my show in Sheffield, but how one is still driven to do it. My other artist friend, Hugh Marwood, wrote a great blog post about the exhibition here:
which I was very grateful to read. Hugh, Andrew and I are currently looking for venues to hold a three-hander group show later in the year, which I’m really excited about. I think I have found the perfect space this week too. 
'Study For The Machine', 'The Lay-By', and 'The Wait'
'Cargo', 'Under The Bridge', 'The Yard 2', and 'The Machine'

The portraits are something I’m still keen to develop further too, believing the different vehicles can possess a symbolic, and almost poetic, quality and character of their own which has the power to move. I have just finished this one based on a Road Sweeper (though seeing those last two sentences written down together does seem a bit odd, I know). 
'The Road Sweeper', oil on canvas, 2016

Saturday, 12 March 2016

....Happy New Year!

A very belated Happy New Year! I had almost given up on this blog, or at least decided to give it (and myself), a rest for a while, but neither of those things seem that easy so here I am. 
I’m currently trying to make some new large paintings for a forthcoming exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in May. It’s quite a difficult space to hang work in, although it appears fairly generous, as it is narrow, and I can’t use all of the walls (but this is something I want to try and wrangle with them), so I’ve decided to make 3 large canvasses, each one 200 x 150cms, specifically for the space. ‘Site-specific’, as they say. I also want to attempt these larger paintings as a personal challenge to create some more ambitious and formally complex paintings that explore my current preoccupation with lorries and transit hubs found under the motorway. So far, however, I’ve only made one, ‘Artic’, represented below, which took me about two months either side of Christmas to complete.   
'Artic', oil on canvas, 200 x 150cms, 2015-16
I’m pleased with it, particularly my use of materials to create and describe different surfaces and textures, something which has become much more of a concern as I have developed these lorry pieces, and one of the things I’m enjoying most about making them. This week I have put the stretchers together and stretched the canvas for the other two I hope to make, but time is something of a continual issue I find myself battling with lately, and, despite having pretty firm plans for both the other two paintings, I am worried about whether I can complete them in time. I do have a vague, slightly crazy, contingent plan if it all goes pear-shaped, though.