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Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Lie of the Land

Restive. Really. K Howell Pastel on Paper 21cm x 14cm
     I'm all for inversions. I like things inside out, upside down, back to front. So it's no surprise that most of my landscapes are in portrait format. This is because I often do portrait-like details of trees, but also because a vertical layout gives a painting a particular dynamic. Energy is more fiercely contained in an upright oblong. Once in a very long while, I make a conscious effort to work on a proper horizontal, sprawling landscape. I seem compelled to fill the space with the repetitious vertical lines  to compensate for the relaxation of the paper.
     I think of it as a play on energies. According to Carl Jung, Great energy springs from a correspondingly great tension of opposites. Well, it's a theory.
 A piece of paper has such limitations, it's a game to energise it in different ways.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Work in Progress...One of them.
     Works in progress are at once disheartening and exciting. On the one hand, you are on your way. You have Something to work with. On the other, it really isn't very good yet, it's confused, unclear, a bit of a mess.
     It's been an odd few days. After constructing an erupting fabric volcano on a Mesozoic play mat, I went to a concert. Three bands took the stage with the same objective; engaging the audience, communicating, striking a chord. The first effort evoked that painful combination of outraged senses and supportive tolerance you feel for an incompetent effort. The second had more confidence, more energy and took risks with power cords. That's always interesting. It was easy to slip into a noise induced coma and hope for some kind of drama to unfold.
     The supporting bands are works in progress.
     The headline act Worked. The music was Shaped, there was Voice. It hit the mark. Unforgettable.
      Our little lives are whispers in a universal vastness. It's always a fantastic thing when someone stands up and gives mortality the Archers' Salute.
     And that's what it's about, in the end. Resonance. Song. I'll go back to work now.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Rent K Howell Pastel on Paper 14 cm x 21 cm
    Samuel Beckett says, Try again. Fail Again. Fail better. Well, I struggle with the English Language, but this seems like sound advice. And so very achievable. The slippery words are being rewritten. Coppiced. Clarified. It's progress, of a sort.
     I'm posting another study. Paintings are going very slowly. Something. Glacial. But studies; tiny, concentrated compressions of colour are Essential.
     This tree is rent and reaching. The shifting forest light gives it a different mood whenever I visit, but it's always dramatic. Rain-soaked bark is beautiful.
     Incidentally, rhyming post titles was not my intention. But now that I've begun, it's going to be difficult to stop...


Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Spent K Howell Chalk Pastel on Paper 14 cm x 21 cm
     Painting isn't particularly energetic, on the face of it. Unless you're Jackson Pollock, no great feats of physical exertion are required. Painting seems to involve a lot of being still and staring. But without a concentration of energy, nothing materialises.
     I have two large panels, in the slow process of developing, and I find working on small pieces at the same time helps keep the energy flowing.
This tree is spent and slowly being broken down, returning to the soil. I love its irregularity, its mossy coat, its disarray. It has had a rough season and is spent. But life is creeping all over its surface. Just spending time watching this tree is energising.