Friday, January 30, 2009

My painting XLVII

Detail at 30.1.2009

As I make small adjustments to each panel, altering its past, I begin to think more of the future of the picture as a whole; where it can be shown; where it might end up; who will see it; can it help to support future work; what are the impending practical problems of presentation; will it need varnishing, framing, and so on.

One plan to help it be seen and to earn some of its keep is to make a full size print version with Brad Faine at Coriander Studios with whom I have worked happily for many years. Brad says this can now be done, so we will make some tests.

Music Drawing, charcoal on paper, 1963, support: 559 x 762 mm

To delve further into the past, however, I have just visited the exhibition at Tate Britain Drawn from the Collection which includes a work of mine, one of two large charcoal drawings I made immediately on leaving art school in 1963 which represent the beginnings of a duel with abstraction and calligraphy. I remember the then director of the Tate, Norman Reid, coming to my studio with his curator Richard Morphet (those were the days) to view and reserve for the gallery an unfinished picture called Benches. Norman Reid saw the two drawings and chose (wrongly I thought at the time) the one now on view. The other I still have here (see My Painting 18.7.2008).

I was a bit apprehensive about coming across a work that I hadn't seen for forty years but was relieved to find it well presented and spaciously hung in good company and looking not at all bad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My painting XLVI

As at 12.1.09

Only a handful of days into the second phase my picture begins to warn me that it will soon pull up the drawbridge and stave off any interference from its maker.

Having dealt with the two or three most challenging adjustments I was determined to make, I found myself looking at a painting that might be made prettier by further intervention but not stronger.

I must fight a tendency, often visible in my work (though not in my life) to tidy up. In this case the temptation is to over resolve the parts where the unfocussed turbulence of the underpainting remains. These are the areas, my painting tells me, that allow it to breathe.

Any talk about art in the making always sounds fairly mad and risks heading straight for Pseud's Corner. Still I maintain that, in silent conference with the painting, I have negotiated permission to tackle some remaining problems, rationing myself to one intervention per panel.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My painting XLV

As at 9.1.09

My first (and long looked forward to) task in the business of revision is to lead a full scale attack on areas that have been irritating me for months. I had left them as they were in order to move on, but they have continued to stare at me balefully whenever I look at the picture as a whole.

The leading offender is an egregious E which seemed to suggest the possibility of literal meaning, tempting the eye to construct other latent letter forms. This has undermined the general abstraction with an unwanted false premise.

To alter it requires a kind of double-knit as a third layer of paint and pattern changes light to dark and vice versa, working one ornament within the interstices of another.