Not much to report in terms of my own art, as, to quote Calvin (& Hobbes): “Reality continues to ruin my life”, so here’s one of the best, by one of my favourite painters: John Nash. The younger brother of the far more famous and critically-acclaimed Paul Nash, I actually prefer John’s paintings. He never got distracted by surrealism, or any other ‘ism’ for that matter, and just stuck to making his own humble depictions of the England he’d fought for in World War 1. There’s a hum of mystery throughout all his work, a sense that he looking for something out there in the fields and woods, something I suspect he didn’t really want to find, because if he had, there’d be no more need to paint. That, to me, is the essence of art.
You can’t have a perfect life. You can’t have heaven.
One of my favourite writers – John Burnside – collaborates with one of my favourite musicians – Erland Cooper. I’ll let the results speak for themselves:
It’s now 2.30pm on a Sunday afternoon, and the daylight is already fading, so that means no more really detailed painting can be done today. This is as far as I’ve got. The snow is finished, and I’ve started on the fine detail of the feathers, but it’s painstaking work, that can’t easily be done under a lightbulb, so I’ll continue working on the stones for now.
I’ve only been back at work for 2 days and I’m already exhausted. Regarding the year ahead, I feel like Frodo looking out across the vast and desolate plains of Mordor. Anyway, here’s my current painting, as it was yesterday evening. I’ve started working on the remnants of snow on the wall, and by the end of the weekend I hope to have finished that, as well as the last of the fine detail on the kestrel.
Back to work today, so there’s sod all painting getting done now. Needless to say, I’m not in the best of moods as a result, but offering some dim shaft of light amidst the darkness is this album: Danielle, by Graeme JD Ronald. A soundtrack to an excellent short film of the same name, it is melancholia of the highest order that recalls Mogwai at their most restrained and sublime, which is no surprise really, as it’s released on their Rock Action label. Highly recommended.
Further to previous posts, here’s how far I got with the painting as of last night. More fine detail on the bird. More fine detail on the stones. It’s going well, and as I work on it I’m reflecting on the year just about to fade out. It’s been a frustrating 12 months, marked by family illness and death and, as a result, long periods of artistic inertia, but in the last few weeks I have tapped into a hidden seam of inspiration which has given me a renewed sense of purpose. This painting will be the first of several canvasses I intend to complete in 2020. I’m also finishing the illustrations and design work on a book project in conjunction with my long-time collaborator Martin Jones. And I’m also working on my own book, a project decades in the making. For too long my art work has been marginalised by the daily grind, but I feel determined to address that in the year ahead. Every day the whistle of the reaper’s scythe grows louder, and if all I had to show for my time was that I’d been to a lot of meetings, I’d be extremely disappointed. So, no more pissing about.
Further to a previous post, this is my 2019 painting ‘The Phoenix Tree’, now framed and hanging in our living room. It replaces this painting:
‘Shadows In Eden’ (2016), which is now for sale. 61 x 46cm. Acrylic on canvas panel. £80 & postage. Email me if interested.