Sunday, 24 January 2010

Why did Bonnard paint ... and what's personality got to do with it?

"What attracted me was less art itself than the artist's life and all that it meant for me: the idea of creativity and freedom of expression and action. I had been attracted to painting and drawing for a long time, but it was not an irresistible passion; what I wanted, at all costs, was to escape the monotony of life."


So, I've been thinking about why I started painting so much in the last year, and why my paintings come out the way they do? How does this happen?

I've read recently that an artists personal style is about personality, and I have recognized from the artists I have met after knowing their work first and then finding out what they are like as people, or seeing something of the way they live, that this is true. There may be some exceptions to the rule, but for example, an fastideously tidy person in daily life will probably paint or make things with exact precision.
My own style, well something is happening, whether it is a proper style is yet to be seen, as you can see from this blog...(does anyone read this blog anyway?) Here are some words off the top of my head to describe my own painting style at present; loose, watery, messy, confused, thoughtful, gentle, abrupt, sometimes uptight, colourful, flowing, hurried, overworked, layered, blurred, spontaneous, energetic, quiet. I  could go on, but without analysing things too much, those words also kind of describe how I feel, me, I wonder if anyone who knows me would agree?

So what is being an artist about then? Is it about being free to express your personality through your art? We are who we are at the end of the day. Individual, different, and complex as nature intended.  Freedom is necessary for us to be who we are, and is crucial in order that we can express our thoughts or feelings or experiences of who we are, or what we feel about the world. In order to let creative works emerge, we must banish the sorts of negativity that inhibits our creative flow and substitute it for constructive criticism. If we don't feel free to express ourselves - or make mistakes, we cannot grow as individuals and then what happens to the creative tendancies?

A note about my own work. I don't always really like what I've painted, but find the results more interesting than anything else. When I started to paint I would tell myself as long as I could find something small in each painting I liked then I was doing o.k. This was largely for encouraging technical ability. Now, there will be days when 2 paintings could have very different styles, and I would wonder why that happens. When I was at University studying Contemporary Arts, I had numerous projects based around the personality, personas and the psyche, this subject fascinated me. Maybe different personas come through more in one painting than another. There must be a subconscious process happening, alongside the physical activity of mark making that results in the artwork itself. As we can't say what we want to with words alone, these are the results of being in the moment with the landscape, my feelings and my life experiences, speaking my own language through paint and paper. An illusive visual conversation with myself be continued I think.

Friday, 22 January 2010

6 x 20 minutes, A2

I've been feeling like the paintings lack some energy in's probably the winter cold that's been zapping it out of them. But no excuse. I challenged myself to 20 minutes for all paintings today. I've enough time to get the basics down, an impression is all I'm after here, and just left colours flow together on the page and see what accidents happen. There's no time for any layers, just bleeds and wet in wet work. (Sorry about the poor lighting on these photographs.)

Thursday, 21 January 2010

And a single tree understood...

This was another sunny, fine windy winters day. Looking across to the magnificent holm oak (an evergreen) standing on the hilltop in the distance. 2 paintings here, then a trip into Siena to look at the Duomo.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

A whole other world with a mackerel sky

I was going to Siena today, but I changed my mind in Buonconvento for some reason and ended up taking a short trip out up onto the hills. It was so stunning this afternoon...that tears rolled down my cheek at one point. Ahhh. I just had to stop painting and take it all in. Hills, mist and the sun peeping through a mackerel sky. There is something amazing about everyday being different. I thought for the first time this morning that I may have started to get bored with it all, then another view hits you, and you know why you came here, all over again. 4 paintings today, 2 small ones and 2 larger ones.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sun and clear sky in winter

An almost warm day today after this mornings frost had disappeared. The sun was out, the sky was very blue, so the brushes came out.A sketch of the veg garden gate, the view in the distance and 2 of the surrounding olivegroves.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Watercolor masters

• John James Audubon • William Blake • Charles Burchfield • Paul Cézanne • Tony Couch • J.S. Cotman • J.W.S. Cox • Honoré Daumier • Charles Demuth • Albrecht Dürer • Thomas Eakins • Thomas Girtin • Childe Hassam • Tom Hill • Winslow Homer • Edward Hopper • George Inness • Ted Kautzky • Henry G. Keller • Dong Kingman • Paul Klee • John LaFarge • Tom Lynch • John Marin • Reginald Marsh • Thomas Moran • Georgia O'Keefe • Maurice Prendergast • Frederick Remington • John Singer Sargent • Irving Shapiro • Charles Sheeler • William Sommer • Zoltan Szabo • J.M.W. Turner • Vincent Van Gogh • Frank Webb • James McNeill Whistler • Edgar A. Whitney • Frank Wilcox • Andrew Wyeth

Friday, 15 January 2010

Sketches from the Uffizi

A whole afternoon in the Uffizi gallery, well worth it. Loved the 13th Century patterned artworks, and the ceilings of the main corridor in particular - painted covings in blue and gold and light decorative scenes painted all the way down the corridor. Here are a couple of sketches as no photos could be taken.Scenes from the lives of hermits, - monks was an intricate painting and I fell in love with these little boats dotted around the sea.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

San Giovanni D'Asso view over vineyard

A sunny day at last, but still icey cold. This is the view of San Giovanni D'Asso coming from the clay track to Poggio Boldrini about a mile away.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

René PleinAir

Just been admiring plein air paintings by René Beeldendkunstenaar, a self-taught artist living and working in the Netherlands. He has some beautiful painting of the snow and ice this winter. Please go and have a look at his blog.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Monday, 4 January 2010

Sunday, 3 January 2010


The Ponte Vecchio was being renovated on the other side of the bridge, so a view from this side instead. I sketched this picture surrounded by hoards of people jossling for a view of this famous bridge and illegal traders selling handbags. A lot of watercolour and caricature artists selling their wares in the street here, some quite good, others pretty poor.