6 December 2011

Gerard Richter - Panorama at Tate Modern

 Visited Nov 2011 
Words in Italics are from the booklet

A selection of relevant and pertinent words as they appear in the Tate booklet 

Diversity - structured by various oppositions - unpredictable accumulations – contradictory -  gestural – mechanic . Impersonal paintings – readymade images - chance procedures - nature of appearance -capacities of vision. Contradictions and connections - continuities and breaks. Utopian abstraction - unbridgeable gap – compromised role - what are the capacities and limits of painting? Incapacities of painting. Blunt use of unmodified materials without any symbolic or narrative content -  arrangement was unfixed. Images disintegrate. Sense of discontinuity. Neither visible nor invisible – equivalent for indifference -  noncommitment -  absence of opinion - absence of shape. Impersonal surface – regulated structure – chance procedure. Non composition. Random juxtapositions.  Contemplation – paint would be pulled laterally and vertically - imperfect erasures, upper layers of paint dragged away, allowing earlier moments from the paintings creation to resurface. Untruthful. Personal significance. Rather than a linear narrative or a single canvas showing a decisive event - fragmented images with no fixed sequence. Repetitions and differences. The intimate and the monumental -  outcome of a destructive process - brutal erasures. Evoke experiences – grid structures. Juxtaposing accidental and intentional – accumulation of strokes and erasures. Questions about vision. Images are inflated, repeated and blurred - all knowledge of their references vanishes but an imposing impression of repetition remains - forms continue beyond the edges of the painting.  Sense of confinement rather than openness – repeated and reflected - rendered indistinct  - on the point of dissolution – obscures the identities. Rejection of intuition –  total randomness.

I decide not to read the gallery information first but to discover the drawings and paintings that I have a personal response to and that are relevant to my own research.

Sea-Sea  1970
There is something unusual and slightly awkward that at first is hard to understand but I am interested. It appears very different to the next sea and sky painting, executed in a similar realistic method. Why is there more drama, more pictorial or perspective distance and why does this somewhat heavier space disturb slightly. It’s a trick, taken from a collage of two different photographs of waves, the rougher of the two inverted and placed as cloudy sky, with the two horizons meeting and placed at eye level.
 “The painting creates a sense of discontinuity and suggests Richter’s acknowledgement of the gulf separating him from the moment of Romanticism”.

I decide to wait here to see how other people might react to it:
I disregard those with headphones, they are merely following instructions, listening has priority over direct thought.
Some visitors read the label first, move back and take interest but are now aware of the trick.
However there are quite a few, that are immediately interested, stand in the centre of the canvas and move back and forth examining it carefully before reading the label. This painting definitely has the viewer’s spending longer in front of it than any other in the room. There is more discussion here.

Sea- Sea Gerhard Richter oil on canvas 1970
Sea- Sea Gerhard Richter oil on canvas 1970

Lino prints

A series of recently found older mono prints are very simply made using the roller directly on to the lino. The black ink suggests landscape, as most have a near central divide invoking the horizon and reflections. A moon appears, almost by accident in several. The last few are slightly more involved with 3 tones of grey being used to create a moody atmosphere. A connection is evident to the large dragged abstracts.

Graphite on paper
These small intimate drawings contain the recognisable spaces found in Richter’s early large abstracts. The graphite drawings made since 1999 use minimal marks to explore invented space and distance.

Silicate 2003
Microscopic images of chemical compounds, magnified many times until they become blurred and any previous reference is lost. The two large grey Silicate paintings use the same images. The first is quite static with horizontal, regular rows of smudged dots that form simple pattern combinations.
In the second the bands are set at a slight angle creating a rhythmic flow as the dots disappear and reappear as “the imposing impression of repetition remains”.
I recognise the similarities to Sea-Sea, where the painted image flows down to the lower right hand corner and begins to dissolve, disrupt and disintegrate, like a breaking tide that flows on beyond the edge of the canvas.

Gerhard Richter Silicate 2003 oil on canvas
Gerhard Richter Silicate 2003 oil on canvas

22 November 2011

Meeting Stephen Farthing

Notes on a talk,
the italics are my thoughts

Stephen Farthing talking about his work as the CCW Research Professor in Drawing.
Starting with a small drawing of a sort of ancient fort or burial ground Farthing explained how he is trying to understand all drawing through making a map or plan about drawing itself. He initially placed fine art in a central position on the landscape and all other types spreading out, reaching towards the act of writing which is set near the horizon. He later moved fine art to the outer circle of importance.
Searching for ways to organise his ideas and locate areas of flow he developed a type of underground map to describe connections as a Taxonomy of Drawing.

He discussed drawing as 2D representation, showing an example of an aeroplanes flat, outlined shadow, that should not be classed as drawing because it is made unintentionally. However a vapour trail heart, constructed by two planes as they fly in arcs through exact planning and measurement is drawing. 
The heart image is a beautifully line, drawn in a transparent filigree the line dissolves in a fragile rhythmic pulse.

Drawings can be definitive or instructive, derived from observation, memory, mind and imagination. 
He gave an example of possibly the greatest drawing ever made, developed by a mathematician. An invented sundial that shadows the movement of planets, then translated into time using the kinetic element of a pendulum, this is made as a tonal drawing.

Sundial invention, biro in notebook
Sundial invention

 Originally drawings may have developed from scribbling but physical gesture is probably the real beginning.
Stephen Farthing is looking at all methods and reasons for drawing. His Taxonomy of Drawing divides into two.

Conceptual  -    Drawings that need to be read via the rule book:
Maps, football pitch, Maori tattoos, because they are complicated and need explanation to enable other cultures to decode them. Roads developing c1920 have become massive drawings when seen with a birds eye view, a highway code is required to understand them.

Where do pathways that mark out routes on the landscape fit here?

Pictorial -   Turner draws a boat on a choppy sea, the latter is signified by rhythmic marks, developed through a keen observation into his method of seeing the world.
We understand the boat as we have learnt to read edges of things, therefore the water is easily understood.

Turner's waves and boats sketch
Turner's waves and boats sketch

Farthing’s map is a conceptual drawing but he also makes a pictorial version.
Two plan chests labelled Conceptual and Pictorial.
You can choose the correct chest to store any drawing in but first how do you decide if it is a drawing and to do this, is it important to know who the drawing is for?
To categorise, it is important to ask first what was the point of that drawing?
A question discussed later - Is labelling valid?
I wonder if there is a grey area between the two, in which drawer does the abstract drawing fit?

2 November 2011

The games afoot

The games afoot...that line again  (ah that’s where it’s from).
Drawing workshop at Henry 5th RSC rehearsal studios.
Actors move around, scenery, steps and tower change positions. Lots of atmosphere to capture, I layer and repeat figures to show movement. If a character returns to the same position on stage, I can add more detail. The Shakespearean actors love to show of, making good body shapes. I concentrate and quickly record the stronger angles, speed of drawing changes my way of working. The director remains quite still, he has a stabilising effect on the image.

                    Propeller workshop - pencil on paper

Propeller workshop - pencil on paper
The director - pencil on paper

Later on at Tate Britain
 A very scary place, Tate Britain if you haven't read the blurb on the Mike Nelson installation.
 BUT wait... don't read it, if you're going, it's much better to know nothing...that’s the point, you should enter totally unaware of what you might find!
( see more later)
Ok, now a bit of the Romantics show to recover. Oh connections... more Shakespeare.

Shakespearean characters - pencil in small sketchbook
Thomas Stothard's Shakespearean characters

Shakespearean Characters exhibited 1813
This assemblage of Shakespearean characters is from the most popular plays of the time.
Stothard is painting what people like. (1755-1834) 
The label says that he demonstrates his literary knowledge and also flatters his viewer. 
Something to keep in mind perhaps but today you have to add a little more.



31 October 2011

Research Folio

Over the 2 years of the MA Drawing course I will be keeping a Research Folio of interesting things,  and probably a lot of thoughts. I have been wondering how this should look but have now decided to just get on with it and to begin here.

Anri Sala at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park
An exhibition of sound/performance/film/sculpture and light.
This is the first time I had seen/heard his work and initially I am a little confused inside the installation. I try not to read too much information prior to looking, as I like to understand it on my own terms first.
A snare drum is playing on it's own, a pair of rubber hands moving in a set way in a darkened room and in the next room a film. The large windows of the serpentine are covered, cut out slots allowed light to filter in casting patterns. Looking through the slots I can see different chunks of the park. In the film somebody was slowly feeding disorganised pieces of slotted card into a barrel organ creating chopped up sound. Moving on through a dark space and into the next room, a film followed a man wandering around outside a neglected and graffitti covered building, he is carrying a box and winding the handle to play 'should I stay or should I go'.
Now that I recognise the music, I feel a little more comfortable and begin to enjoy how the sounds from each room mix as they pass through the spaces. A real saxophonist begins playing adding to this mixture, unfortunately the mini barrel organ in the window isn't working.

The visual ambiguity of slots of light (the same pattern as the music score) that create both the patterns inside the room and snapshots of outside simultaneously are interesting. These combined with the quiet visual film footage and mixture of sounds leaking through from the separate room spaces, all evoke a very specific atmosphere. It is both a moving and at the same time enjoyable experience.

Anri Sala, exhibition of sound,performance and sculpture


15 October 2011

The first week- Thursday

It's been a very busy summer with few visits to the studio, I have started my MA Drawing course and I am excited. On Thursday all MA students and staff took part in the 'One Minute Showcase'.


I showed 'Large Spiral and gave a one minute introduction:

'My intention here is to make images that can physically affect a viewer. This one needed to be large to fill your visual space and be a continuous and slow movement. I experimented to find the right weight of the marks and how they should sit on the paper and used the charcoal in a simple and direct way to avoid unnecessary tinkering.
 I am interested in how people might respond to abstract drawings and how there is often an immediate connection. A sort of alternative recognition.'

 I had wanted to add a funny bit (but the minute ran out) about how drawing spirals had had a physical effect on me...it had caused extreme drowsiness. I think I might have discovered a cure for insomniacs!


I just found a first edition, the only book published on the subject, who would think there was so much to know on Pins & Pincushions. It's a wonderful book

17 July 2011

Open Studio weekend

The open weekend went well, a lot of people came in and were interested in my paintings, although the first thing everyone commented on was the lovely fireplace.
The space worked well for my paintings, I hadn't noticed earlier how the shadows and shape of the roof echoed the shaped boards I work on. Surroundings really do make a difference, people appeared relaxed in the room and stayed browsing through my work for quite some time.
Earlier in the week I made a sudden decision to apply for an MA Drawing course, so It was a mad rush to put together a portfolio for the interview the day before the Open weekend. I enjoyed it even though there were some difficult questions it made me think hard about some aspects of my work.

But great news I have just heard that I have been accepted on the course, I am exited about how this will affect what I do in the future, I have definitely stirred things up now.

4 July 2011

Hard as nails

 It's our Open Studios this weekend so lots to do, trying to put up paintings but these walls are rock hard. Yesterday I bent at least 12 different nails but after a visit to the ironmongers I have discovered a new type of small masonry nail and it worked. So off to a good start this morning until I found some paintings I wanted to hang have small strange spots that might be mould, I will have to google it and see if it will get worse. So now more rescue work needed but I need to find what has caused them.
Tuesday I found out that the "studio in the wood" can be a very scary place, lightning strikes directly above, made it feel like a cell. I didn't dare step outside. I think it stirred up the energy though as ideas flowed and I did something drastic the next day after months or maybe even years of procrastinating. I'll let you know how it goes later.

25 June 2011

Cottage in the woods


Studio door
Studio door

Moving in
Moving in
 Cottage in the woods
Cottage in the woods

To begin a day in the studio I make small combinations of things to focus and switch of  all those random thoughts that distract. It's hard to let go this time, I  push pigment into patterns of ocean swell. It's a subject I am slowly building on. This old cottage in the woods is an odd place for it but it's not as remote as it looks.

16 June 2011

Odd things

    Insert 2011 acrylic on panel    
Working sketches
Working sketches
Starting with the odd collection of small neglected paintings I found. These were all made at different times so it is going to be interesting to work on them all at once. It's a bit unexpected how quickly I can see what to do next on each of them and all at once, considering the differences between them but I think it is just that, that is so inviting.

3 June 2011

Sunshine Friday

   A beautiful day today and it makes it hard to stay inside the studio. I sat and relaxed just outside the door and thought about my approach to painting and why I seem to be more motivated by looking at sculpture than most paintings. The subject came up during a chat with Susan yesterday and it has made me think again. I picked up some work on paper that sort of ran out of steam last year and felt a renewed energy to continue with it but in a different way. I think it works but need to spend more time on it yet.

31 May 2011

View from the window

Moving studio I  found an old 'Art in America' magazine, reading that painter James Bishop described his life in Paris 'as one in exile'. Now looking out through my studio window I get that feeling as I am sitting here, hidden round at the back of the park, behind the trees and it's very quiet. Cosy too but a little bit scary with the strange sound the wind is making. I like this bit, it says on the indifference of artists working in Paris they.... 'ripen more slowly there' Ashbery - gaining intelligence and benefiting from introspection.

24 May 2011

Starting work

I discovered too many half started and abandoned paintings during the move and now I have quite a lot to think about. Do I prepare a surface for new work or recycle? Obviously it's not possible to continue where I left off as I am in a different place both literally and mentally.
I am very happy in the space and feel a fresh motivation to reinvent and so think working on some of the unfinshed paintings is a good idea.

20 May 2011

Everything is in.

I have spent a very long day trying to take stuff out again to make more space and things still need to be moved around but it's ready for me to start painting now. Unfortunately it's going to be impossible to hang anything up as the walls are rock hard. It took two of us several attempts with a hammer drill to make a hole 1cm deep. A bit of a problem for a painter, I'll have to look for some inventive system or just work on paper and use sticky tape.
 I can't wait to get started next time I'm in.

18 May 2011

Getting there

Sorting required
 All the cobwebs and spiders have been swept out and the walls painted but the studio looks a lot smaller now everything is in it. Looks like it will take some time to find everything a place. Alex the Park Keeper lent me a wheelbarrow which speeded things up after a shaky start. As a novice I very nearly tipped the lot out on first trip when it hit a pot hole.

17 May 2011

New studio

It's exciting moving into a new studio and a good time to start a blog, I know it will affect my work but how....? I am putting down a painted hardboard floor for warmth and I can even be barefoot if it's not too cold. It's a smaller space and I am worried it is a bit domestic looking so will have to be careful how I organise it