Starting 2020 - a clearer vision?

It’s been a very busy start to 2020; I completed a coloured pencil dog portrait which came to me via the MyArtBrief website, the UK’s only bespoke art commission site. It was a fun drawing to do – the client provided me with two photos of the dog which I then composed into a suitable image to draw from. I took the head and front legs of one and the behind & back legs of the other! I’m pleased to say the client was very happy with the result, which you can see below.

Gerrard the Jack Russell

Over the last 6 months I’ve been looking to develop a series of paintings which incorporate my own expression of the things I love about my biggest inspirations. You may be used to seeing from me detailed watercolours or realistic drawings. While I do enjoy creating these types of works, they don’t fully connect with me and the way I want to express myself as an artist.

I’m a big fan of bold colour and brush marks, of thick slabs of paint stretched across the canvas, of texture and mark making within landscape painting, particularly from some UK artists.

David Tress is a British artist noted particularly for his deeply personal interpretations of landscapes in and around his home in Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales. He combines the techniques of collage and impasto with conventional painting and drawing to produce results that have been categorized as a form of abstract expressionism. (taken from Wikipedia). Tress started his artistic career painting highly realistic, detailed watercolours. Once he had reached what he calls the limit to all he could achieve in watercolours he started to explore and produce work which has its roots in abstraction but has elements of realism and at times a photographic quality (see his large charcoal drawings!). He is very physical when painting – there are some videos on YouTube of him in his studio which are worth watching. It’s the use of bold colour and the layering process that draws me to his work and is something I’m trying to learn from and bring into my work.

Sea and Sky and Rain coming (St Davids Head) mixed on paper 54cm x44cm 2014
Sea and Sky and Rain coming (St Davids Head) mixed on paper 54cm x44cm 2014

Kurt Jackson is a Dorset born artist who lives and works in Cornwall. He has spent the last 30 years celebrating, and raising awareness, about the environment not just in the UK but around the world too. His website says:
“A dedication to and celebration of the environment is intrinsic to both his politics and his art and a holistic involvement with his subjects provides the springboard for his formal innovations. Jackson's practice involves both plein air and studio work and embraces an extensive range of materials and techniques including mixed media, large canvases, print making and sculpture.”
Jackson creates enormous works of art, often outdoors in harsh weather – you’ll see on his gallery website a photo of him painting on the beach…..
He has a very unique style, especially when it comes to writing on his paintings which will often become the painting’s title. He combines different media such as acrylics, inks, pencil and charcoal and I particularly like the marks he makes with the pencils and charcoals – very expressive and loose but always adding something to the story he is telling. It’s these marks which are currently influencing me but often it’s the whole style are like; I would say that of all my favourite artists it is Jackson who’s style I would copy completely!

Morning light 2018, mixed on museum board,  21cm x 26cm
Morning light 2018, mixed on museum board, 21cm x 26cm

Joan Eardley (1921-1963) was a British artist noted for her portraiture of street children in Glasgow and for her landscapes of the fishing village of Catterline and surroundings on the North-East coast of Scotland. One of Scotland's most enduringly popular artists, her career was cut short by breast cancer. Her artistic career had three distinct phases. The first was from 1940 when she enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art through to 1949 when she had a successful exhibition of paintings created while travelling in Italy. From 1950 to 1957, Eardley's work focused on the city of Glasgow and in particular the slum area of Townhead. In the late 1950s, while still living in Glasgow, she spent much time in Catterline before moving there permanently in 1961. During the last years of her life, seascapes and landscapes painted in and around Catterline dominated her output. (taken from Wikipedia).

I am a huge admirer of Eardley’s work, particularly her landscapes of the Scottish coastline but I also love her depictions of the Glasgow slums – there’s a compassion in her portraits of the children and adults she depicts despite the strength of her colour and brush marks. Again she is another artist who has a strong sense of colour and mark making which I find compelling and expressive. You can look at her painting ‘Harvest’ in fine detail on the National Galleries Scotland page – look at that texture! (use the magnifying glass icon to zoom in and out of the painting).

Harvest, oil and grit on hardboard, 1960
Harvest, oil and grit on hardboard, 1960

There are of course many other artists who are currently having an influence on me at the moment, and I am enjoying (albeit through gritted teeth sometimes) the process of working through my compulsive need for detail with freeing up, letting loose and being bold with colour and marks. I don’t want to get too abstract either, as I like there to be a foot within reality with my landscapes but I’m certainly trying to push myself within this.

What you see at the moment with these new works will probably not be where I am in 5 years’ time but I am really pleased with how some of the works, such as ‘When all is lost, and there’s nothing left to give – sit, wait, listen’ have worked out. I’m trying to drag myself away from sunsets/evening skies but I keep getting pulled back into there as they are such a dominant aspect of the landscape around us here in the fens.

27. When all is lost, and there's nothing left to give - sit, wait, listen
27. When all is lost, and there's nothing left to give - sit, wait, listen

With this in mind all the new work I am currently creating will be displayed in my new exhibition which opens in May 2020 at The Last, Norwich. Details of this can be found on the Events page, and if you sign up to my newsletter you can be the first to find out details of the ‘Art at Last’ evening where you can come along and meet me.

Until next time…