Monday, January 31, 2011

The best laid plans ...

Afraid the small piece of lino I found whilst clearing my studio cupboard isn't up to the task of the design that started out as a tree then grew and grew to include Wentworth Place and a couple of fields. And a couple of birds that from the cut of their jib, to say nothing of their size, couldn't possibly be described as nightingales:

This means a trip to the big city some time in order to track down lino in the only place that I know sells it on this island. And lovely Japanese paper, of course.

Must say it was an unexpected pleasure to return to the limitations (or do I mean tyranny?) and formality of nice thick uncompromising black lines which I seem to have shockingly neglected of late since swishing around with loose images of the sea and shore.

The general design owes a lot to stuff in my London sketchbook such as the garden, reminder scribbles of eighteenth century samplers I spent an hour or so drooling over in the textile department of the V&A and the barley-stick like poles on the merry-go-round in Hyde Park. Funny how things come together when you're not expecting them to.

Here is another photo of Wentworth Place (aka Keats House) as it was just before December. Season of fog and freezing ice more like. I am still in the thrall of the Keats biography which I finished last week and vastly enjoying stumbling upon obscure Keats-and-his-circle-related things on the internet in that one-thing-leads-to-another way which is such a guilty, time-consuming pleasure.

And apropos of nothing, here is another de-cluttering find: a photo of a photo (hence the poor quality and distortion) of a painting, now long lost, I did more years ago than I care to remember and evidence of another long-enduring obsession of mine which is rearing its head again after visiting the Museum of Childhood in December: old dolls. I mean portraits of old dolls ...

Golly, I really should get out more!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wild Weather Blowing In

is the name of the picture I finished over the weekend.

I had had an idea for doing some local fishing port scenes for a while and have many sketchbook squiggles and snapshots to prove it but meeting up with a fellow naive (wave wave to Judy Joel) down there last week was the push I needed to put brush to canvas.

It's a start. The next one will include the harbourside dogs and pebbly beach. And there is also the old customs house, but that may be for another angle.
First I need a now for something completely different moment to release an idea that's been nagging at the back of my mind for a while: linocuts.

Haven't done any for a while and my fingers are itching after finding an odd piece of lino and inks and being still well an truly immersed in the 18th century thanks to Andrew Motion and my visit to Keats House just before Christmas.

I came across this old print while decluttering the studio (the task that never finishes).

As you see I err on the side of the simple rather than complicated multi-pieced prints. My "naivity" has always been more naturally attracted to ye olde Englishe broadsheet style rather than the slick art deco one. Which is a very happy coincidence given that the technicalities of the latter would be well outside my comfort, skills and, um, patience zone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bits, pieces and sticky tape

This is a bit of a mess, I know. 
I painted this picture, see, and after spending about a couple of hours tore it up in disgust and binned it. 
The next day I could be seen picking through the rubbish to retrieve it, cut out the re-usable bits, stick them together mosaic fashion and add bits, subtract bits, until I got an idea of what I wanted.
It is now pinned up for use as a working sketch.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The sea, the sea

 Last week I went for a trip down to one of this island's most picturesque towns, Garachico. It used to be a big bustling port until lava blocked the harbour and destroyed part of the place back in the seventeenth century. Lots of lovely big traditional mansions, churches and old convents criss-crossed by cobbled streets and alleys.

But for me it is the craggy dark Garachico rock, battered by the elements (and there are an awful lot of elements in this part of the north coast) for thousands of years, home to seabirds and the offshore guardian of the town, that is the star of the show.

Unfortunately on the way I had realised I was sketchbookless. As it was a Sunday and I had to resort to searching a little souvenir shop-cum-mini-market for a notebook and eat my words (further down the blogroll) regarding paper with gridlines on it. Vile stuff.

I think my general distaste for the material I had to work with comes across in this hasty sketch I did as the rain started to sweep in and which formed the basis for the painting I did the next day.

That'll learn me, as they say.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Horses ...

... painted ones.

I just love them. 
Here are a few I have snapped recently which I thought you might like to see.

The magnificent traditional steam-driven ones were in Hyde Park over Christmas. Just contemplating them and their shiny barleystick brass poles gave me a warm glow - despite the minus temperatures and snow.

The one I spotted yesterday outside a Spanish supermarket isn't a patch on them. A pitiful plastic 21st century mass-produced descendant of its Edwardian ancestors.

But interesting, for all that. And extremely fierce-looking, with a possible oriental air. Look at those clumpy hooves compared with the elegant lovingly-carved carved ones above! Can't help thinking how very much children are being sold short on their aesthetic experiences these days.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Work in future progress

More figures are starting to quietly creep into my sketchbooks and the scruffy doodle book (which is just a cheapo spiral bound school exercise book with blank pages, remarkably hard to find in these days when children seem to need to do everything on lines or a grid) that travels around with me in the house.

It is a fairly indecipherable object and full of jotted thumbnail pictures, quick cat poses, food smudges, crossings-out, photos cut from newspapers, book titles, phone numbers and striking sentences from whatever book I'm reading.

A faithful stream-of-consciousness reflection of my bemuddled mind, in fact.

For some reason (which may or may not go back to my convent-school nun-dominated days) the figures that are pushing themselves centre stage, as it were, are all somewhat shrouded.

Or it might be the juxtaposition of the bizarre with the well-known and understood.
Like the two burkha clad women in Hyde Park which I posted earlier, and these two spotted outside a typical Victorian house in Cavendish Road in the depth of winter

Or these Mother Theresa nuns who were incongruously gathered outside a beach hut and picknicking on Wittering beach a couple of years back and who seem to be surfacing to the page at last.

Anyway, they're all very rough at the moment and I'll have to see where they go.

If anywhere.