Friday 22 June 2007

This Week

It's been a busy week. A meeting of the Figure 8 painters' group on Tuesday was helpful. We have a lot of planning to do for our 4 (possibly 5) exhibitions next year and I think we're all conscious of how time can be frittered away until - suddenly - the show is on top of you.

When Newcastle University's Fine Art Degree Show opened at the beginning of the month, I had time only to look at the work in The Hatton Gallery and a few of the First Year Studios. Meeting up with The Frootbat on Wednesday, I got the opportunity to see most of the rest of the Show, although some of it had been taken down. I'm pleased to be able to say that, overall, the work was immeasurably better presented than in the last few years and, from a personal point of view, I was delighted to see the re-emergence of painting as a favoured discipline. Clearly the departure of the egregious Uriah Heep from her post of Head of the Painting School has been like a breath of fresh air.

Back at the Art Club on Thursday, I made some headway with the painting of the Metro Station in South Shields.

Metro (work in progress)

I'm still trying to convince myself about the tree. It started life as leafless and looked terrible. When it came into leaf, the awful greeny-ness of it fought like hell with the red, blue and yellow. Now that it's been re-clothed in rather browny-green leaves, including quite a bit of cadmium red in the mixture, I think it works better. But I want to look again at some real trees, instead of the ones growing in my head.

Having a little time to spare before I left the Club, I thought I'd have a go at one of the views I brought back from the Lakes. I'm experimenting with a palette knife at the moment, so most of this was done with one, the paint thickened up somewhat with Matt Spectragel.

It's OK; better perhaps than I expected it to be, but more work will be needed and I suspect I'll do that with a brush.

Lakeland Farm (first impression)

Monday 18 June 2007

Rugs & Icons

Rugs & Icons (oil on canvas, 16 x 16 ins.)

Monday 11 June 2007

New Rugs

I was a little unsure how to continue with Cretan New Town, in that the colours I was using were being developed fairly intuitively. To move it along, however, I felt I needed to understand my colour palette properly, so that I could make the appropriate choices when it came to finishing off. That took me a while, but I finally realised the scheme is organised very loosely around a triad of cobalt blue, permanent rose and a non-specific yellow (combining with the rose to make an orange)

I haven't worked up the nerve to test this out yet.

Instead, over the weekend I started another based on a rug and icon shop I found in Crete a couple of years ago:

Rugs & Icons (beginnings)

I worked on it again today and this is how I left it:

Rugs & Icons (2nd day)

Friday 1 June 2007

A Picture with All the Trimmings

Cretan New Town (second pass)

This painting is turning into something of an adventure for me. The colour is much hotter at the moment than I would normally use, and there are odd things going on in the buildings themselves.

The people of the town have taken down their simple old church and erected something much grander, high on the hill above the harbour. A cypress has shot up alongside it. The blue and green yacht that was moored in front of the big pink wall has sailed off and the harbour is quiet.

I'll be interested to see what happens when next I go there.

Meanwhile, it's not only the New Town which was hot today. Gateshead basked in delightful June sunshine and I took the opportunity to tidy up the garden a bit.

Last year I borrowed the hedge trimmer belonging to John TwoDoorsDown. It was kind of him, I thought, and even kinder of him to remind me to beware of cutting through the cable. Suffice it to say, however, his caveat fell on ears of purest cloth.

I cut through the cable.

After that, things in the hedge department of Stately Zip Mansion have got out of hand. First of all, the hedge between here and Bob Eh's place has just about died. I suspect it suffered from tarry fumes when I had the garage roof re-felted and since then it's struggled to produce a handful of leaves at one end. The rest is brown and withered. Mind you, it doesn't seem to have affected the local blackbird who sits in it singing and pretends that he can't be seen.

Worse than that hedge is the way ivy and berberis are slowly consuming the garden wall and until today were creeping out across the pavement. I noticed the Council Man who drove round the other day on his little electric scooter, spraying perfunctorily at the weeds in the pavement, had to give my ivy a wide berth. I think I saw it twitch towards him as he sailed by.

Finally, the hedge between Stately Zip Mansion and that of Lucy Smooth has become a definite embarrassment. It's another berberis, I think, of an attractive pale gold and Lucy Smooth often says how much she likes it, especially when she flexes her elderly arms with her little clippers and tries to get it under control.

I'd have done something with that one, if no other, but for the first time blackbirds decided to build their marital nest in it. There was much toing and froing for quite some time, but whether there were any progeny I'm not sure. I suspect if there were, they emerged while I was in the Lakes.

Anyway, the blackbird presence meant that the trimming of the hedge had to be delayed.

Last week I invested in a hedge trimmer of my own. A cordless. No fool me. And today it worked like a dream. Every hedge in sight, including the Lucy Smooth side of the pale gold berberis, got the hedge trimming treatment. I even used it to cut down the thistles I found lurking under the banks of ivy.

I think I feel how the Pilgrim Fathers must have felt, after they'd cleared the forest and planted beans and corn and whatever and piled all the leafy cuttings into their big green wheelie bin. Ready for a big juicy steak, sliced from the rear of a bear or something.

I'm not actually looking forward to my lemon sole and broccoli.