Monday, 22 February 2010

Old Drawings #53

Crustacean Root (Charcoal, compressed charcoal on A1 cartridge paper)

In 1999 I was doing research for my BA Dissertation on the Pembrokeshire landscapes of Graham Sutherland and in an effort to get first hand knowledge of the area that so inspired him, I took the opportunity of a stay in Swansea to go for the day to Picton Castle.

Everything I'd read told me that Sutherland had donated his considerable archive to Picton Castle in the form of the Graham and Kathleen Sutherland Foundation, so it came as a big disappointment when we got there to find that everything had been shipped off to Cardiff and the gallery space at the Castle was devoted to contemporary Welsh artists. Apparently funding for the Foundation had proved insufficient and all of Sutherland's papers, drawings, paintings had been lodged with the National Museum Wales.

But the trip wasn't wasted by any means. Before going back we had time to wander along the shores of the Eastern Cleddau where the shaly soil of the banks has fallen into the curious shapes that fascinated Sutherland and where the twisted roots of old oaks poke out into the air.

This drawing is one of three inspired by the roots of the Eastern Cleddau shore. Not done in a terribly Sutherland manner, but they are important to me. As each of them developed, accidental effects made them take on individual characteristics that the original roots didn't obviously possess. This one, for instance began to take on the look (at least to me) of some kind of lobster or other crustacean. These drawings represent an approach not yet explored but waiting for the time to be right.

Just to round this story off, I did get to see the Sutherland Archive in Cardiff. It was unbelievably thrilling to be able to sift through his sketchbooks, squared-up photographs, watercolours, prints and paintings. Definitely a trip to remember.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Buildings with Tyne Bridge

Buildings with Tyne Bridge (Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 ins) £190

I think I'm heading for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records: for the longest-running cold. The cold I developed around Xmas becomes, by turns, a cough, a runny nose, a sneezing fit then a cough .... None of which saw me in much of a mood to get things done at the Club this week. Especially as the revived central heating has brought back members keen to catch up on the gossip.

"Do you know", said Joe, "I've done nothing today but stand around and chat." Then stood around and chatted some more.

Despite all this, I did finish off Buildings with Tyne Bridge which a search of this blog suggests I last worked on in October 2008. This can't be right, because the picture I worked on today was almost complete. Maybe I did more to it at home. Anyway, there was little needed: a few windows here and there, a touch up of railings on the Bridge and there we are, another addition to my increasing collection of Small Works.

The Harry Ramsden's has moved along slowly, with work on the lettering proving a fiddly detail, but next week could see it almost - if not actually - complete.

Above Harry Ramsden's (work in progress)

Friday, 12 February 2010

King's College from The Backs

King's College from The Backs (Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 ins) £190

I should have realised that some of the paint on the King's College painting would still be tacky, which meant that I couldn't make the final adjustments straight away, so I began work on a new painting related to the Seaside Cafe pictures. By the end of the afternoon, the paint was firm enough for me to finish King's College from The Backs. At only 9 x 12 ins., it's a little too fiddly for me to consider anything else like this soon, but I'm quite pleased with the way it's turned out.

Above Harry Ramsden's (work in progress)

I'd already started this painting a month or so ago, but I wasn't happy with the composition, especially as part of the Harry Ramsden signage was off the bottom of the picture. I knew my good friend Kevin had taken a photograph in Brighton at the same time as I took mine, so I asked him for it. His is almost identical but the image was more securely anchored in the rectangle and I much preferred it.

Today's work meant painting over the original start and moving the image slightly to the left and up. I was worried this would take some doing, but it all went well. The only problem now will be in developing the signage so it looks as close to the real one as is desirable.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Picking up the pieces

King's College (work in progress)

Another week of getting nothing substantial done at home, so back to the Club today, only to find that - hurrah! - the boiler has been fixed and people are trickling back to the studio. Old Tom was there, working on the big woodland painting he's been tinkering with for the best part of a year.

"When will it be finished, Tom?" I asked.

"2030" he said, after some consideration.

"How old will you be then?"


I like his style.

For myself, I'm going through one of those catching up periods when I finish off all the paintings that tend to get put to one side when I have to concentrate on making work for an exhibition. The two Seaside Cafe pictures belong to that category, and so does this painting of King's College, Cambridge.

It's almost complete; just a bit of work to do on the lawn and perhaps a taking down of the windows of the white building. I'm tempted to go back to the Club tomorrow to finish it off. If I do, I must make sure the photograph I take of it isn't influenced by light reflecting on the sky.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Seaside Cafe Nos 1 & 2

Seaside Cafe No.1 (Fortunes of War) - (Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 ins.)
Private Collection

Seaside Cafe No.2 (Due South) - (Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 ins.) £190

The cold weather, coupled with the failure of the Art Club's boiler meant that when I got there yesterday, the oldsters had decided that they couldn't take any more frozen bones and gone home.

Bolbec Hall Studio

In splendid isolation, I set to and finished off the two paintings of Brighton cafes

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Old Drawings #52

Rooftops (Charcoal and compressed charcoal on cartridge paper)

This drawing is clouded in uncertainty. I don't really remember when I did it, but this seems an appropriate point in the Old Drawings scheme of things to post it. I can't locate the dimensions of it either, although I suspect it was done on a sheet of A1 cartridge paper.

It's a drawing of the rooftops to be seen if you look over the Western side of the Tyne Bridge. Eventually, I made a painting from it, but people so rarely look over the side of the Tyne Bridge that no one knew where it was and kept asking if it might be somewhere in the Mediterranean! The painting is in a private collection, so I don't have access to a good photograph of it, I'm afraid.