Pandemic Pondering #254

©theoldmortuary

A commission went off to its new home a little over a week ago. It was a birthday gift so I can only reveal it now. It is the first big painting with washes of colour and a figurative element. Something I’ve been dabbling with since the beginning of the pandemic. If anything the abstract landscape element is simplified in all these pandemic works and the figurative element is symbolic rather than a perfect rendition of an object or person. This was a commission with some guidelines and thoughts from the customer. In an uncertain world many of us like a little certainty. In this picture the certainty is provided by Smeatons Tower and by the words hidden in the rocks.

In other Pandemically created works the certainty is provided by the human form.

I wanted the human to be as serene as a Budha and sexually ambiguous.

One of the things I love about commissions is that they come with a set of conditions that I would not give myself and consequently force me a little beyond my own boundaries. I’ve learnt from bitter and expensive experience not to stray too far from my boundaries to satisfy a customer at the cost of my integrity. All commission’s are a risk but I’ve learned to manage that risk now.

The two pictures seem quite far apart but they are part of my current need to inject something solid and certain into colourful abstracts and they are both an explorative part of future paintings.

For now I’ve just created an apocalyptic high tide.

Pandemic Pondering #232

There is always an urge to buy more art materials when you’ve made a sale or two at an exhibition. I’ve been on a purchasing embargo for over a year so I was excited to buy some Hydrus water colour inks and some Yupo paper. A month long Lockdown should give me plenty of time to experiment.

Yesterday’s painting was not at all creative. I needed to create a colour chart for the new paints on both the Yupo paper and my usual brand. Typo is not even really paper, It is made from plastic. Choosing a different paper is a lot like getting a new skateboard or snowboard. Watercolour relies on mastering skills and tricks in just the same way that boarding does. Unlike other paints it is not so forgiving and can end up like a mud puddle fairly quickly.

The most creative thing about my colour chart painting was the kitchen roll brush cleaner.

After that I allowed myself to try a couple of cling film experiments on the Yupo.

Yupo hugely increases the time that watercolour takes to dry. Intricate layers of texture will take days to create rather than a few hours. My only sketch of yesterday is drying ready for me to work on today.

All of which was a fine way to keep my mind off the election process in the U.S.

In other news, which luckily colour matched with the sketch above, the Cock of Outer Trematonia from Pandemic Pondering #276 lives on.

He was seen in Outer Trematonia with a slightly less bouffant style but still with a swagger. Not unlike the actions of a man across the Atlantic. None of us understand cockwaffle so who knows if he is cock-a-doodling the truth.

Pandemic Pondering #215

https://www.thegardenhouse.org.uk/

You would be forgiven for thinking that my visit to The Garden House was all about hot reds and tangy yellow colours but there were also some subtle shades that were equally compelling.

These beautiful lichens were hiding in a damp outdoor stairwell. The colours are a bit similar to one of my ‘Aloneliness’ sketches.

Part of the reason for seeking some less vivid colours at The Garden House was to find some subtle colour pairings that appear in nature to incorporate into my current project.

The silver birches provide some lovely colour combinations that I’ve not yet used in watercolour sketch notes. They may make for a more gently forlorn image.

Just for completeness I’m including the steps to the original damp turret. All the colours here are softer, bathed in sunlight that has bounced off a few walls before landing on these lower steps.

These more subtle colours will be explored very soon in watercolour. I’m still working on my early sketches and really very unsure exactly where these androgynous characters and their colour fields are going. I wonder if I might call them Pandemic Ponderings…

Pandemic Pondering #210

https://www.thegardenhouse.org.uk/

Goodness me, pondering is never predictable. Today was about a bit of outdoor sketching and some social nattering with other artists. The location was always going to be spectacular at The Garden House perched, as it is, on the edge of Dartmoor. The weather was very kind , a brilliant sort of day, bright with sunshine and dark with marvelous shadows.

10 acres of arboreal beauty makes it very easy to lose your fellow artists, not that that was the plan. I was lucky enough to find the heart of the garden.

There were so many pictures to capture and many stories to tell in future blogs but this lovely heart image deserves a blog of its own. It was really comforting to be able to gently natter to people I haven’t seen in reality for 8 months but it was also comforting to be alone but amongst friends in a beautiful place. Our conversations were blissfully honest, when they happened, so many shared stories of Coronovirus hardships and disappointments, but also the sharing of creativity and optimism in a beautiful place.

Pandemic Pondering #191

https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2020-09-23/opinion-divided-on-plymouths-new-sir-antony-gormley-sculpture

Our Staycation trip this morning took us to visit the new Antony Gormley sculpture , Look II on the Waterfront in Plymouth. A cultural dog walk on a blustery day.

Look II

If I were a sound artist I would record twenty second snippets of the conversations that occur as People get close to it. Then play them in the echoing paths near the Tinside Lido that overlooks the sculpture at a distance.

It is no surprise that a piece of contemporary sculpture would have a mixed reaction in Plymouth. The link at the top of this blog takes you to a selection of local opinions.

Look II

My creative head was lucky enough to share my first experience of Look II with a couple of people who I will call Twat I and Twat 2. I have precised the conversation to protect my word count.

Twat 1 ” Its a bit rusty for a million pounds”

Twat 2, thinking quickly, how can I uptwat him?

” Oh well it’s been here a week, I expect it’s the sea”

Twat 1, thinks, bugger I’ve been uptwatted! Best play my trump comment.

” My grandchild built something like that over the weekend”

Both get a little closer and kick the sculpture as if it were the tyre of a second hand car that they were giving an opinion on. Twat credentials fully exposed .

Far better the fishermen who demonstrate so deftly why this is a beautiful, thought provoking work of art.

Pandemic Pondering #167

August was a blast. September is the month of holidays @theoldmortuary, but most importantly it’s the month of more interesting light and textures. This year September will be all texture and no holidays. The angle of the sun both in the mornings and evenings makes everything look a little bit more interesting. Trawling through my photo archive some gorgeous textures popped up. Textures are my references for abstract paintings. I stuck to textures photographed in past September’s to illustrate this blog.

The first one is a lovely Palimpsest photographed in Devonport. It is a traditional paper advert posterboard. I drive past it a lot , you have to catch it at the right time. Seemingly one team rips the old posters off and another one follows up and sticks the new one on. I drove past between the two visits and luckily got this lovely piece of serendipity.

The next two are also in Plymouth, one in a hotel and the other in a restaurant. I’ve stuck them together because that is what I do when I’m trying to work out the way forward in a painting.

Textured inspiration also comes from the preparation of food , another two stuck together, one coffee and one gravy.

A couple of years ago we went to a Jazz Festival in Nafplion in Greece.


https://www.fougaro.gr/

The venue is an Art Centre and was also holding an exhibition of wedding dresses. Not normally something that would attract us , but I am so glad not to have missed it . The textures of the wedding dresses were amazing and deserve a blog on their own but there were also this colourful, textural piece that can brighten up this blog first.

I love the juxtaposition of beautifully crafted metal and plastic flowers.

If I wasn’t sticking to the ‘photographed in September’ rule I could share loads of pictures taken in European Cathedrals of ornate gold leaf work , gem encrusted and beautiful, with plastic flowers in a jam jar, close by,somewhat ruining the aesthetic.

Black and white texture comes from a negative image of a blackboard and plastic wrapped rolls of hay, looking other worldly in the sharp sunlight.

Finally a little pink texture, the Dahlias grow in our garden and the Crochet and cracked paint were an installation at Plymouth Art Weekender a couple of years ago.A city wide art festival held every September.

https://plymouthartweekender.com/

Despite Covid-19 the Art Weekender will be held in Plymouth this September.

Pandemic Pondering #161

Print is the prompt word for the Art Group.Printing is Dirty work and I absolutely love to do it. There has not been enough printing in my life.My fish are a popular print.But on the whole I do not do anywhere near enough printing.I should do more , it was a printed piece of work that was exhibited at Tate Modern.Note to self, spend more time printing.Fine Art printing is one thing but written word printing is a whole other world. Bringing Pandemic Pondering to the written word brings me to The Mayflower and the postponed anniversary celebrationsLocally in Plymouth , England 2020 was set to be a hugely significant year. 400 years since the sailing of the Mayflower and the founding of America. Events were planned all over the place. The Pandemic has delayed celebrations.Printing is the key to this date,not the arrival of settlers.The Mayflower was not the first ship to deliver Europeans to America in search of a different life. What made the date of the arrival of the Mayflower significant was the signing of a printed document. The Mayflower Compact. 2020 is the 400th anniversary of the signing of that document. The actual date of arrival of the first European migrants to The New World is unknown. The 400th anniversary had, in reality, already been missed so postponing the party for a year is regrettable financially but not historically a problem of accuracy.https://www.mayflower400uk.org/education/the-mayflower-story/Printing can also make us laugh.

Pandemic Pondering #160

Using the prompts for the Art Group as my jumping off point for the blog is wearing a little thin. But day 26 of 31 is so close to the end that 5 more days should be doable.

Todays prompt is somewhat clunky. ‘ Books / Write a letter. I chose colour theory books to illustrate the prompt.

These two are favourites. The larger one accompanied me through many nights of on-call , the vibrancy of colour a beautiful distraction from the greyscale of Medical Imaging.

The smaller one travels in my back pack, a regular favourite to dip into when there is half an hour of time to be filled.

Colour and it’s reactions to its neighbours is always at the centre of my creative process. This month I’ve been working on some hidden figures .

I’m aiming for the serenity of figure reproductions of 60’s and 70’s popular art. I think the pictures I’m thinking of were sold by Woolworths worldwide.

Vladimir Tretchikoff is not an artist ever studied at an Art School except as an illustration for Kitch.

©Vladimir Tretchikoff

My hidden figures are nothing like these paintings but the bold colours and the serenity is what I’m aiming for.

These paintings were everywhere. They were almost never seen to their best advantage as interiors in the 60’s and early 70′ s were not quietly understated. A Tretchikoff was mostly to be seen set against gaudy wallpaper, in a room overburdened with souvenirs or ornaments.

The young me knew none of this snobbery and just loved them for their colour.

The ‘write a letter’ bit of the prompt would be to my younger self.

Dear Young Ju,

if you get the chance in the mid seventies grab every one of these reproductions that you find discarded by dustbins. Skips/ tips/ Charity shops do not yet exist. They will each be worth a fortune in the 2000’s. The Pre- Pandemic era as it will come to be known. Fill warehouses with them and if you have any space left then facemasks would be pretty valuable too.

Love Older Ju

Pandemic Pondering #153

Wet on Wet is the Art Group Prompt.That is quite a challenge for a blog.Wet on Wet is a painting technique, where layers of wet paint are applied onto an already wet surface. I am not an expert at this technique. I’ve never used it with oil paints . I do use it with watercolour, but I’m not the best practitioner. It can turn out dreadfully badly, or with practise you can get lucky. Having a good teacher helps immeasurably.

© theoldmortuary
This is an infinity pond at The Scarlet Hotel, Mawganporth, Cornwall. Mr Mackerel posed for this painting, below, before supper.
©theoldmortuary
I’ve also evolved a Wet on Wet technique for acrylic painting. This method is not taught but comes from an inquisitive mind. For this technique, as yet unpatented, I mix acrylic paint with a variety of clear fluids. There has been no teacher for this technique, many muddy mistakes.Water.Saline.Vodka.Rubbing alcohol.Silicone lube.When the different diluents meet on a pre-prepared canvas or board they react to one another quite differently and can give some fascinating effects. Sometimes great and sometimes shockingly bad. With a little practice I have learnt what works well together but I can always be surprised and not always in a good way.These two went well.Dungeness
©theoldmortuary
Dungeness detail.Forder Creek
© theoldmortuary
Forder Creek Detail.And finally and importantly.A Left Hand Cleaving Water
© theoldmortuary
Detail.This last picture is an important link to non arty wet on wet.P.SA pandemic revelation! @theoldmortuary have become hooked on wild water swimming. Not something that you expect to read in an artyfarty blog. But with a prompt like wet on wet, added to us living in Cornwall that particular prompt lends itself to wild swimming too. It can rain a bit in Cornwall. We are fairly enthusiastic swimmers in warmer climates but swimming outside in Britain has been pretty infrequent until this pandemic. Without access to swimming pools since March and with no holidays on the horizon, swimming was off our radar until about 10 days ago. Some friends invited us to go to a beach for an early morning swim and we haven’t stopped going. Wet on wet refers to us not caring about rain , which is very curious. We’ve taken the plunge a few times in the rain without any worries.We’ve even talked about wet suits to prolong our season.Pandemic Pondering- exploring Wet on Wet two ways.

Pandemic Pondering#152

The Art Group prompt word takes @theoldmortuary to some interesting places. Who doesn’t love a landscape?

My thing for years has been abstract landscapes. For this blog I plunged into my ideas and inspiration file.

I am intrigued and galvanized by nature’s ability to always overwhelm the constructs that man creates or just change the way things look. In doing so there is often unexpected beauty.

The dunes suffocating a beach hut at Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk.

Here is an urban reclamation. Tarmac in Dulwich Park being broken up by tree roots and covered by autumn leaves and other natural detritus.

@theoldmortuary. The Smith Family Collection.

Nature is not exactly reclaiming this wall, but the Landscape Street Art is so famous as a site for Instagrammers that it is being worn away by sweaty hands and carefully posed leaning. This picture was taken some time after it was painted but before it became insanely popular as an Instagram background.

Alex Croft painted this as a commission for Goods of Desire. Countless Instagram photos feature this slowly fading wall.

©Instagram

Closer to home our century plus garden wall looked like a hedge as ivy took control.

It took quite a bit of effort to bring it back to wall status.

Next up 2 beaches slowly consuming man made structures.

And finally some box fresh images taken on Monday evenings combined swim and dog walk adventure.

A landscape shaped by the sea. Even if you visit this beach every day it will always be different.

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall