'The Street (Figures)', oil on canvas, 100 x 120cms, 2018
So, I’ve been thinking a bit more about the paintings on display in ‘Just A Little Bit Back From The Main Road’, which is easier now they are out of the studio and I feel a sense of completion of this particular cycle of work.
In the last 18 months as I have worked on them I, as I always do once I get started on something, felt deeply, almost obsessively, involved in their motifs of discarded detritus in my street and the parked up, waiting vehicles and silently watching trees (although none of my tree paintings, of which they were four completed, eventually made this hang, but may another time find themselves a part of it).
In the last month or so I finally felt burnt out with it all, and found myself making the painting ‘Red Window’, which in my mind at least marked the end of what I wanted to do. It’s quite a different image to the others on display, but I feel it represents something more personal on one level, but also is an attempt to create a painting that the others can hang around.
'The Street (Red Window)', centre, oil on canvas, 100 x 150cms, 2018
I feel an enormous sense of relief in the feeling that I want now to draw a line under these paintings for now, but I’m finding it hard to explain why. I feel a sense of freedom, which is odd in one way, as no one is making me do them for example, but the drive and sense of urgency I have felt to make them can be all encompassing which can at times be difficult. Now I just want to see how they appear to others as they slowly find themselves on various gallery walls in the coming months, first here at Evesham Arts Centre, and later on in a group exhibition in Nottingham in September, and possibly a solo show in February 2019.
For now, I’m a bit troubled by certain aspects of them in the visual language used in the depiction of the subject matter which, in my mind, is a bit inconsistent and unresolved at this stage. Some things are painted much more realistically and traditionally, such as ‘Negativland’ or ‘The Cooker’, others more developed through a filter of certain modernist approaches to painting, such as ‘Figures’ and ‘Empty Boxes’, and feel I should have done more to bring these two approaches closer together, with possibly more preference given to the latter. Possibly. You could say different paintings require different treatments, but I’m not sure how far this argument can hold up with my work. I don’t think I’m that sort of painter (this could be an extended essay! I don’t want the blog to be like that. And I could never write them either). Of all the paintings on display, ‘Figures’ (the one on the invite and at the top of the post) is my favourite, and on a more positive note, feels like a breakthrough of some sorts, which points the way for how I could develop things in terms of language as I move on. It feels like all the rest of the paintings made were worth it in terms of leading up to this one, and that is worth this 18 months of work alone.
'The Street (Negativland)', oil on canvas, 100 x 120cms, 2017
As I write, I’m keen to return to and develop much further my interest in lorries and vehicles and transit depots and a return to the larger post-industrial landscape, something a bit more literally and mentally more expansive, but this time in the daytime with more colour and light. I also have a few other ideas, quite different ones, I’m working on inspired by the landscape I find myself walking with our recently acquired new dog. I often find myself in unexpected corners of intense natural beauty ‘just a little bit back from the main road’. Taking a closer look at this in my painting has provided me with some inspiration of how I could reconcile my interests in the depicting the natural world with my work set in the urban environment.
Anyway, there’s a few thoughts….