Tuesday 29 November 2011

29th Nov

Actually in studio early this morning, first time for a week - helper in house, takes up time and requires effort. Finished - again - P de Danse M. Signed anyway. Don't actually like it - but if I am true to myself, why should I? A certain amount of rigour - capricious rigour, perhaps- got it to where it is. To make it palatable is not part of my brief.

One quite wonderful thing has happened which has filled me with energy and joy. Email from a woman who bought one of my postcards from the RCA Secret show - and camped out all night in order to get it.

Working on the Anubis picture, destroyed and rebuilt today. Its getting a direction. Bit lost, truth to tell, but a pleasure to put on paint, to be painting. Its all very verby.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Nov 26th

still fiddling. Strong feeling that one radical move will complete into something a lot better - magic wandery. Probabaly time to turn to wall and move on.

Thursday 24 November 2011

24th Nov

---- not set foot in studio all day:) Yesterday uncovered many visual difficulties with Palais de Danse - am making a list of the changes needed, all fiddly. Spent the day putting paint onto the ex-rape, now falling body, picture. Going well. Also cut up, reworked, examined and filed some drawings. Getting ready for the next headache, probably. Have to stretch some canvases - currently have a guest here to help on the land so am tied up. Holiday, in short.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

tues 22 nov

Insurance man dealt with by 9.15, hurrah, so to work - and found I was far more interested in the watercolours of yesterday that getting to grips with the Palais de Danse. Tided, redrew, mounted one, generally pottered; then crept up on the painting and made some changes. Handle on cup changed (shoulda done that ages ago but liked the tension of the previous cumbersome composition) fiddled around; desperate to finish now, its not claiming me anymore. But I don't like the product, don't like to look at it. It doesn't please.
Having lunch now, will go and reconsider ...

Later; dunnit dunnit dunnit, bar a bit of tweeking on the tea cup and maybe a go on the surface of the lake. Leaving it to dry. Tiny tweeks is all thats needed. Honest.
Sat down to look at it just as the light was going and fell sound asleep. When I woke up it was obvious that all that green should be blue - alors, I made a lake. Or a river, dunno. That's stopped the excessively fussy surface, up to a point anyway.
Tidied the skull, that's helped too.
Anyway, dunnit.

Now have to stretch some canvases to get on with developing the new drawings... just as my arm was getting better, sigh. An evening of TV and ironing beckons. Great!

Later still; soup, a glass of wine, a read of a book - struck by how at peace I am, how contented, how happy. No idea if the painting is any good and really don't care. It has passed like a storm.

Monday 21 November 2011

monday 21st nov

Find myself extremely reluctant to go to work, after a long and frustrating weekend off. Realise that -again - I don't know what I'm doing; the painting to make logical sense needs now to have shadows, the fall of light and shadow across the figures as they come out from the cover of the carousel. But what is this picture to do with logic? Am I aping nature? What other purpose is served by faux illusion?? How many metaphors is it useful to mix ---

So, this morning will be spent drawing TWO models. Then I have an appointment re; plumbing in the little house, late afternoon clear. Tomorrow another appointment with the insurance people - afternoon clear - then a clear day followed by the arrival of a garden worker who will be here for three weeks. Have to feed him. Don't know how this will impact on working. Perhaps this explains my reluctance - without the run at it, frustration overwhelms me.

However, did go into the mountains on Saturday and may be able to use some of what I saw in the background of the Palais de Danse painting.

Later; drawing surprisingly helpful. Pavek, the male model, had hands worthy of a Rodin, huge, veined; big frame hung with bulky muscles. Thin long legs, big feet. His partner Micheala, the model of last week, turned into a little shapely young thing in his grasp. Quite unhesitatingly lovely together, clearly in love. I had the wit to use watercolour- alors, too many technical issues to get caught up in something so overtly sentimental. The task of 'doing' something within a time frame, in a place, with particular materials, overrides the analysis. No choices but unconsidered and perforce honest response.
Hindrances afterwards, (all welcome), meant that there was hardly any time in the studio before the light went totally. Knowing that artificial light is death to this picture, stopped... not before shadowing the ballerinas arms, better for the composition, and the inside of the skull, ditto; changing the lettering on 'de danse', fiddling with various issues. Pleased that I wasn't afraid to hack at it.
Got tomorrow afternoon. MUST finish. Its run its course through me.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Nov 16th

wretchedly sleepless night in the course of which I realised that the green wasn't the problem, the problem was the red of the bishop against it. Now gold, with texture; textured with the yellow nightie of fond memory, using the green flowers embroidered on it - it was in pieces in my ragbag having been worn into the ground. Nice that it should have a swan song as the print on a bishops cope. Cope? Vestment? - Frock.
Many more changes... deaths head has an eyepatch, eases the flow of direction across the space, chair of the Marylin had to be muted, purple frock had to be upped, central chakra had to dissolve. Found a tube of sponge brought back from Martinique with exactly the right mouth to print the lightbulbs. Works OK. Carousel deco nearly finished (trouble with mirrors), have to chrome the rods that hold the dolls, need to make an half ellipse of brighter green outside the carousel.
Has to be left now as tomorrow is domestics followed by three days of Bob and Clare. Will try and get press adjusted in the course of domestic day, there is an idea with paint thick translucent tracing paper and proper heavy printmaking paper I want to try out. Looking forward to the break.
Have left notes on the bits that need fiddling as Ive run out of light and the use of artifical does no favours at this stage.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Nov 15th

Off to Carcassonne for the day. The Carousel has gone till the summer. This toy was in a shop window.
Kat pranged her car and I feel guilty - she drove me to the Cite.
Painting looks like total shite.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Monday Nov 14th 2011

clouds a problem. Lay in bed watching the sky lighten - my picture has to be sunset not sunrise I think - good clouds so took dog for long walk. Very tempting to incorporate the wolves and suchlike that were in the sky but the picture is already too busy. But maybe.

Woke in the night from a dream where the roundabout hen was free and chasing me -!- funny, not a nightmare. Then a voice - I wrote it down - "Worlds with worlds. Held by the breath of God". Cant remember timbre or gender of voice.

Realised that I've never been on a roundabout. Want to know what music they play. The only roundabout from my childhood was in infancy and it was a lampshade that Stafford made me. It was of crinkly stiff translucent pink plastic stuff, perhaps supposed to look like velum? Textured anyway. Inside that were shapes of horses that were attached to a fan that sat over the lightbulb. When the bulb warmed up it turned the fan and the horses revolved.

Since the changes to ballerina and bishop there is too much green at the edges of the painting. Thought for a while about putting in more hens or some horses and now think I shall wait till all the frilly stuff and landscape are finished then put in a brass rail barrier around it. Emphasis on the prison of the world.

Later; took a break to go life drawing and glad of it... new model, Micheala, Czechoslovakian , young, stocky and quite impossibly naked. Perhaps because her hair is cropped. Or because it was her first time. She was good, could hold a pose, didn't do anything tricky but managed to be interesting. Which is more than be said for the product, sadly, though (as is now normal) the last one came off. Lunch now, late, hungry, back to studio anon.

Later still; working under artificial light is bad, the colours are pasty and flat. Reaching a point where the lightbulbs have to go in, ugh, can I print them? Use a sponge to make a shiney round thing? Indeed I can, but not till the sky is done.
Have cleaned palette and brushes and pots and plan to go to Carcassonne tomorrow and look at the carousel there. Celebrating with a glass of wine, time for a break. Cleanse the mind. Its pretty stupid, this whole thing.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Nov 13th 2011

Woke bright and fresh after disturbing dreams (*) and decided to have a bath instead of going straight to the studio - its one thing to be lead by your unconscious, its another to be bullied by it.
l like the letters, the words, in the picture. It makes it like a German woodcut - a devotional instructive piece. Doesn't actually look anything like a German woodcut though I'm tempted to make the letters in the gothic script, to labour the point.
Had to change the ballerina. She was too human and not in the same class of doll as the other figures. Shortened the body, de-frilled the tutu, exposed more of the wheel chair. The patterning on the carousel is perhaps too strong; will complete and then see, perhaps knock back.

Went to the market and Trebha came back with me - wanted to show him the sunset thief (he liked it) and see if he could read the white tiger/shaman picture (he could, exactly) A relief - no changes needed.

Danse Macabre getting rather muddy in parts, will do what can be done this afternoon and then maybe give it a day to dry. Want to finish before Bob and Clare this coming weekend or I'll loose contact. Though this may not be a bad thing, difficult to know.

Later; took most of the afternoon off in the face of lovely weather and gardened. Then dusted and washed. Then realised I was doing displacement and went back to the studio. Did more fiddly bits, trying to find a way to suggest the decoration of the carousel rather than painting the thing properly, as it were. Karim had said -twice in the week- that I'm too intellectual in my work. (His tactic is to spend 20 mins on a painting, work fast and bold.) Me, I think I'm too emotional. Funny that.
But pleased today, content. Only stopped because I was hungry.

* - saw in a Greenwich publicity booklet a new housing estate where they'd used my paintings from the Festival Hall windows as transparent partitions in the site. I was very cross - no creditation, no permission asked, and I didnt like them. [actually in retrospect they were rather good] Rest of the dream going through old papers trying to find photos of the work to claim them and demand they got taken down. A reference to the futility of my occupations... though the dream wandered off, as these things do, and got less bureaucratic. Cant remember how.

Friday 11 November 2011

sat 12th Nov

____ it goes, as they say. I've arranged a high stool and a very low stool and with that and standing I can work across the canvas without too much discomfort; in fact, switching regularly keeps my limbs from seizing. The grey exit box on the side of the central column doesn't work. One thing that does work is doing this writing. Surprisingly helpful to *talk* about whats happening; though does this cause a literariness in the picture?

---amplified that by putting in some writing . The Marylin has Marylin written on her neckline; Bella has Bella written on her saddle; I've written Palais de Dance macabre across the top. Quite like it. In fact, rather enjoying it coming together with the surprises that emerge. The hand of the bishops relationship with the hand of the Marylin was not something I'd expected. The opening out of the picture with the sky and the horizon hanging in surprised me. Enjoyed the blue lines on the teacup. Its slog but not as dull as slog can be - a few more days should see me done.

11 nov friday

Fitful night - this rigid composition disturbs me. Is it just a question of filling in now? yet what else, other than leave it unfinished - or overpaint - God knows why this should make me anxious. Accordingly took a long bath before starting and then carried on till coffee, returned after. Its ok, its coming to life, the colours are dancing bright. Issue with an arm of the ballerina to be addressed; the other figures are working. I'd left a space for another character which was to be death or someone sweeping the carousel and not structured anything there - now find its like a box on the side of the roundabout, dont they have them? Think so - and it serves as looking like a doorway through which all those on the roundabout must pass.
Watched the procession at 11.00 of the ex-combatants and those going to the monument to commemorate the dead of the european wars. They passed the end of the impasse in groups, with the usual martial music of the loudspeaker from the gendarmes car - great procession, danse macabre - a video may have served this idea better than this painting.
Hungry. Thought I was nauseous with all this death stuff but just hunger.Lunch.

Thursday 10 November 2011

nov 10th

Late start, bad painting, the ballerina is too incongruous - she'll have to go, she doesn't share the logic of the other parts. Been 'colouring in'- sky, hills - boring, looks bored.

Later, been working under artificial light which aint good but have resolved the ballerina issue by putting a tea cup in front of her, the sort that wizz round on carousels. This massively upset the composition so have added a scull chalice, also supposed to be able to sit in - which helps sort the problem of the bishops feet in that they are now obscured (hadn't been able to decide on barefoot - which seemed too penitential - or what instead.) General shape now sorted, I think.

All very static - but what else? Do I want illusory movement? Its not very appealing. Really interests me because of this unbidden link with Stafford, with whom I now seem to be having a conversation. His smell has returned, a peppery patchouli smell, lovely - I don't think he ever used anything it was just how he smelt. So now this is art as therapy? Does that matter?
I want to see it finished and see what I think then, so I guess its keep on going. I have several clear days to devote to it... what luxury.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

clear weds

Walking last night, saw what to do about the large canvas. The carousel idea is OK but focus on the inside of the roundabout, the figures, and they should be of the dance macabre tradition. Remembered the poem I wrote as Stafford was dying; 'in the palais-de-dance macabre.'

The most amazing smell walking last night, between sawdust and pine bark resin with a hint of a green plant I don't know the name off - used to grow in front of the cabin on the field. Can still smell it. Thats what gave me the direction for the picture, how weird that it should come through smell - perhaps the other senses are too oppressed.
Cold night, big moon; threat of asteroid passing between it and earth. It didn't. Gave a good sense of space though.
I have a clear day.... start at 8.00am

Later, lunch, 1.30; the painting is pretty well in place, or nearly. I had been thinking that a bishop was essential - they are always featured in dance macabres and I like the idea, as in chess [ - should all the chess pieces be in? they slide in anyway perhaps, will check- ] anyway got the bishop in and then tried to find the poem (palais-de-dance macabre) and can't. I know exactly which notebook its in but can't find it and didn't want to waste too much time looking. Remembered one reason I used that title was that because in the Palais poem people are puppets dangling from life-support strings, drips and so forth; used one of the carousel slots to take a wheelchair plus a stand with drip. Astonished that it immediately housed Stafford - last time I saw him, I guess. Have changed it so its less obvious. Too awful.
The bishop developed the face of Micheal Jackson and Ive changed that too but let the idea stand - in fact dropped using the screaming clown and made the bishop clown-like. Has Chapman brother/Goya overtones which I'II try and loose, if possible. They have rather covered that area though, with their Insult to Injury .
Took coffee with Kat at 10.30 and an American came and joined us at our table. Used her face and sunglasses, T-shirt, for the figure I wanted of a woman, a 'Marylin' which was actually her name. Have developed her t-shirt to represent the chakras. She was called here, she said, by Mary Magdeline - these people are called Magheads here - sweet if looney.
Got one major slot left - that was to have been the screaming clown - plus a space for death or perhaps a woman sweeping. Also there is a hen across the front which needs a child riding it. Using Bella, my fave hen, as a model but lack a child... maybe a miniature adult.
Drink tea, siesta, try again.

Later, dreampt myself to the hospital where I last saw Stafford. Bits of it were shut down, bits of it were going to be closed, like the space where the hyberbaric oxygenating chambers were. No dream, in real life. Creepy. I found a closed off place where no one went, with a functioning bathroom - I used to write there in total calm and safety. What a weird hospital, it had so many levels it was like the human consciousness - coffee at the entrance, doughnuts, a little restaurant oh lots of stuff came back to memory. Canada. Glad I cant find the notebook of poems nor indeed the big book of drawings of his dying. (Put that away somewhere because I didn't want to see it) Came up with a useful figure from my siesta anyway, a ballerina. Tied in with my long friendship with Stafford. The painting is working well though fear it will need children and don't want to do them. Can I propose their absence in some way? Bishop needs one on his shoulder, chicken on his back, ballerina on skirt, Marylin on chair.
Some time tomorrow morning. Out tonight. Bugger, late.

8th November

Drawing yesterday I set up a critique in my head.
It occurred that it might be better to ask the other artists to criticize, like the monthly crit at college. Will ask the others if they'd like it too - easily done, stay after drawing one day, bring work you want to talk about/hear about.
Spoke to Kat and she agreed. Showed her the sunthief and she immediately saw the problem AND the solution - to paint out the reflection of the red sun under the stolen object. Stops it looking like a bottle or a penis or anything other than a disk. Dealt with it this morning and overcame the temptation to carry on fiddling with it - enough, enough. Its done with.

Read this morning; 'I don't have the feeling that I write my books, I have the feeling that my books get written through me... I never had, and still do not have, the perception of feeling my personal identity' . Claude Levi-Strauss. He wasn't mad, I don't think; the sense that you have to fight or accede to something beyond your self is perhaps normal.

Yet the artist (me, actually) needs a huge sense of self to get to the studio, to expose the product to the public, to carry on carrying on - just have to get rid of the sense-of-self to do the actual work. Or is this bollocks?

Afternoon working on what was the rape painting and is now probably a falling nude. Connection made; now I just put paint on. Its sitting well enough though, Ive upped the linseed in the damart/turps mix, try not to think and let the picture make decisions. Tomorrow may have to address it differently. The painting of anubis remains - untouched, can't see what to do with it and it ain't working as it is.

Took a picture to the cafe. They have a couple of truly duff amateur pictures there - duff but unpretentious - I was going to take the sunthief because its so rumbustious but repainted it instead and so took a little landscape. Its a view en route to Campagne. Just the road, a field, some trees, the electric lines and an airoplane trail. A slight work. Luke the proprieteur, who has been asking for a picture for ages, made a good fist of concealing his disappointment. Lucky I'm robust.

Monday 7 November 2011

November 7

The Lautrecs were wonderful - he seems to have never made a duff one, never a fudge. How come? Did he destroy the failures? Or was he just extraordinarily good, graphically? Wonder what would have happened to his work had he lived. Would it have evolved or declined...
Went to draw this morning determined not to self-pastiche. Feel my drawing has become mannered but how else to find direction in a void - without the random marks, the offerings to luck, the opportunities for chance. Intellect fails where dreams allow.
Same model as last week, arrived late, he was uninspired and uninspiring. Did only watercolour, even for the 2 min poses. Results are poor. Maybe something will emerge when the dust settles.
Not set foot in studio. Paperwork is todays price for evasion.

Thursday 3 November 2011

3 nov 2011

So; an hour this morning before very welcome distractions kicked in; 3 hours late afternoon. Im sure there were insights but I forget them. All I remember is that the urge to do something easier is becoming stronger - surely I can find a way to return to the (hard-fought) safety of the food paintings, that people liked, bought, were entertained by?
Finished a landscape which I propose to give to Luke at the cafe. Dreamed a Big Dream; TC and two other esotericisists were talking, asking me to join them, in an hotel, red decor, many roomed etc. Much debate. In the bar found one of my paintings off the wall and almost torn in half. (not a painting I know, between the green (wo)man and a koala bear.)(awful, muddy coloured, dodgy image, bad pic) The landscape I shall offer Luke aint good, but it aint bad and if its destroyed it doesn't matter. Its chief charm is an airplane in the sky, its trails echoing the telegraph lines in the hills. As above, so below.
After all these years, is that all I have to say?
Tomorrow off to Albi to see the works of Goya and T Lautrec. Can only be good.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

2 11 2011

Got a bit of time in this afternoon though wish I hadn't. Photographed some work - looks awful - went through stacks of drawings hoping to find some that might be of use. Didn't. Looked at the paintings in store - they asked for one in the local cafe - nothing, rien, zilch, nada. How come?
And the current paintings seem to have sunk, the colours retreat overnight. Im using gesso and rabbit skin or sometimes one or the other - never had problems like this before.
Hmmm using very little linseed - either turps or nothing or perhaps dissolved damart crystals when it the surface is too overworked. Maybe I'II add more linseed to the process. Could be that the turps is diluting and sinking the pigment.
Still not confronting new canvas.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Tous Saints

Weekend off for Bobs visit. Started again Monday at dawn and reworked the thief's thighs, honed up the arrow. Met the model -Nazir?- for it in the market on Sunday, he was carrying a bag of his drawings framed in little clip frames; started to show me and when I said I couldn't buy any he said they were not for sale, this was his museum. They had real quality - very impressed.
At 10.00 went to life drawing and he was again the model. He worked very hard - excellent model, in total contrast to the hoity-toity disdain he'd offered for the work I'd done of him previously. The very last drawing of the morning worked - its so faint as to be almost invisible, which challenges my notion that its pointless doing things that aren't easily reproducible (like David Jones, though as technology has moved on he can now have his moment) and also picks up on my contrary but also-held notion that art should be furtive to become particular (ref low-tide and underground sculptures of my youth) Ownership starts with discovery. Or vice-versa?
Totally overwhelmed and charmed by my drawing anyway. Long time since this has happened. Don't know if its any use but have been trying to work out why it works for me. Its made of 5 separate elements that hang together, completely by luck - perhaps it works because its like seeing Im capable of being lucky or making myself available to luck. It was 2 hours slog to reach that point, after all. Perhaps its the delicacy I like, since the painting I'm mostly working on is as subtle as a sledgehammer.

Today is Tous Saints and the French will be in graveyards. Would enjoy joining them. Mist just lifting - will see how the morning goes.

Later *finished the thief picture, was very keen to see how it looked outside the studio which is one way of knowing if a thing is ended. Dated 011111 which was a pleasure. Its very loud, very very loud. Need more time around it yet.
Framed the drawing that had so enchanted me - because its so slight I thought I might loose it - used a frame that had a history for me (bought with sweet faded still life for a few quid years ago, because I liked the glass- old and flawed, lovely - left it in junk shop to do proper shopping, came back and someone had broken it. Replaced but of no interest now) Came across the now-framed picture by accident and found it uninteresting. Sigh. How these things tease.
Working on the original picture of the thief, the anubis one - it moves but pedantically. Again, don't know what I'm doing. Same with the nude-over-rape picture. I'm still putting off the big canvas, still unsure about the carousel, seem to have lost the studies for it.
Tomorrow have to chase about dealing with household things so will continue tonight under artificial light.