Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Journey into .... discovery & decision making

Response, memory, reflection & colour   

The task that I have set myself always throws up surprises, this is the inevitability of process led work, one thing leads to another; it is not a linear process, it can at times be convoluted and at other times, so simple. It is a learning curve, as much about myself as it is about the handling of the material. Ultimately I realise that all of this latest work is a self-portrait, the scale of the work in most cases is near enough, my scale; working on the canvas as far as I can reach in terms of width and height is liberating; for a start, its size not being 'domestic' means that at the moment of applying the paint I cannot fully realise its effect on the overall emerging image - I am immersed in the act of and at the same time, in the painting itself - what you see is not necessarily what you get.

Apart from anything else this way of working is prone to misguided delusions of a romantic idyll of an artist working away in the belief that they have something to say and is often a conversation/ heated argument  that I have with myself. I suppose part of the quest is to achieve a sense of purpose, I have an innate desire to make the work but how much of it is self -indulgence? Inflated self - worth? Are the values that I hold skewed? Maintaining an objective outlook and questioning my motives is a constant; moments of self- doubt are always to the fore and require an immense amount of effort sometimes to override the desire to say nothing at all. Of course this is true for so many others, so, wheest!

Seriously, what is as good as seeing wet paint interact with another, the surprise of translucent layers, the fortuitous accident, the emergence of shape and form within a composition? Actually, there are loads of wondrous moments, nature's momentous visual and audible spectacular events that are the everyday, a magnificent sunrise/set, majestic scenery, flora and fauna is a given. Love another. The list can go on and on, other cultures, music, food .... but as one of my old tutors from my foundation course said "making art is better than sex" That was her opinion, I get where she was coming from because to experience the wonder from both activities you have to be fully immersed in the moment.

Some of the latest conversations each revealing itself only towards the end and memory comes to the fore. All approx around about 165cm x 158cm or over

Recently had Iberian Overture included in Visual Arts Scotland Alight 2019 (until Feb 22) at the Royal Scottish Academy building in Edinburgh which was great.
Working towards solo show 'Flux' in Aug at Scott Gallery, Hawick Museum where I will be showing these larger works.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Stepping over the threshold

Procrastination requires immense self - discipline

Stepping over the threshold - The need to comment visually

Stepping into the studio without an idea of what the work will be about forces the hand, it creates a state of uncertainty and demands action. An arbitrary mark starts a dialogue and a conversation begins. What follows is a constant state of flux, an exchange of opinion, argument and assertion, followed by lots of humming & hawing, further proposals  and rumination - the inevitable cycle of this chosen pathway. 

Reading (again) Van Gogh's letters reinforces my belief system - he expresses despair at those artists that produce "polite, technically competent pictures" that ultimately tell you, nothing. Yes, it looks reasonably like that place but does not say anything that involves the sensation of being there, the way the light, wind, colour, air etc ... affects the artist - in other words, images that are without an opinion. 

There are too many painters producing decorative pieces that are devoid of any voice, it all becomes the same banal shite. 

Picasso,was prepared to take a gamble, he didn't want to stand still despite what he had already achieved - for him it was about pushing his boundaries, at 13 he could draw like Raphael. The list of artists that inspire is obviously a long one, I believe they have a link in common, a singular voice that comes about from a genuine desire to say something, an inner drive to create and hone their voice. Gillian Ayres being one of those, a painter of great stature, unwilling to compromise.

With all this whirring around in my head there are plenty of mistakes to be made and, plenty to be learnt - the creating drug produces the most destructive lows and euphoric highs - would I have it it any other way? 

The sense of an arbitrary mark beginning the process poses the questions -  why? what for?
Partly the answer lies in the word process - the process of painting, the application, the translucency, the opacity, the shape - all of these help to inform the next stage and reveal  the images intent and hence, its meaning. Convoluted?  Perhaps, nevertheless I don't want to visually or mentally, stand still.



A Collection of Unconnected Moments

Iberian Overture

Pick n' mix - Contextual Appropriation


Cassis - Reverie


Attested - A Series of Random Impositions

Lacuna - revised

Internal Mapping

Cambodian Boogie - Sensory Overload

Payload -  Overload - Bombing the Innocent


Analysis in Green & Tangerine

Extant - Unfulfilled 

Reminicence - Arles Deconstructed

Isolation Marker

I have been uploading to https://www.instagram.com/cruachan0/ with paintings and photographs and have utilised a lot of time-lapse videos as above showing the development of a number of works.

Monday, 3 July 2017

The ebb & flow 

... still searching ... moments of  ...  

understanding ... not understanding ... clarity ... confusion ... wonderment ... disillusionment ...

Regardless of how long I have been a practicing artist, the ebb & flow of creativity is still, a seesaw; a careful balancing act, one in which I am both instigator and onlooker, reacting to something; invariably uncertain of its outcome until (possibly) much later on. All of this dialogue constantly moving back & forth between demand and response creates, extreme highs and lows. Of course, it's a natural part of the creative process but it certainly doesn't get any less mentally exhausting.

On the other hand, Andy Warhol said ' Don't think about making art, just get it done...'

Early part of the year involved preparing for a new group exhibition:

It was great to be exhibiting with Inge and Sam, artists whose work I admire, working respectively in glass and photography. We were working around a loose theme; so loose that we did not actually talk about what we were proposing and, in fact, it wasn't until the hanging day that we each found out what each other were showing. It was such a pleasant surprise to see how well the work went together and this was something that a lot of visitors commented on.
I began exploring the idea of "Lost Heritage", thinking about the textile industry and how it was originally so important to the Scottish Borders, every town having a mill; the reality now is different, whilst a few places still exist, it is on a very small scale.

Using screens that had photographic knitted patterns on them (courtesy of Grace at HWU), the starting point was to randomly print onto the canvasses and to then work out its direction.


Lost Heritage Nō 1

Lost Heritage Nō 2

Lost Heritage Nō 3

Lost Heritage Nō 4

Lost Heritage Nō 5

Lost Heritage Nō 6

Lost Heritage Nō 7

Naturally things seep into the psyche and can present themselves in unexpected ways. The following works are a mash up of responses to world events, not as a direct result of one particular thing; I cannot help but be affected by the consequences of interference in other societies and how this perpetuates a ripple effect. A sense of disassociation is ever present, soundbites and spin, we are encouraged to abhor atrocities (and quite rightly) but not those carried out in our name? We never deal with the elephant in the room! 

In 'Payload Overview' there is the irony in the delicate translucent airy quality of looking down onto a tapestry landscape moments before the cargo of destruction will impact. I have always been struck by the video footage from bombing sorties on the news and how we see them as images, so far removed from the reality. It becomes pure cinema, edited and pictorially pleasing. In this regard, there is a sense of irony in all of my images too. 

Payload Overview





Consequence Nō 3

State of Flux


Displacement Nō 4

Drawing still remains an integral part of my practice and, in particular the challenge of direct observational drawing. It forces you to take time out in this fast moving immediate world, to question what it is that you are seeing and, attempt to solve the problem in front of you.