'The place where inspiration hits the page running... A sketchbook to fail and reflect on my work and my process'

Monday, 21 April 2014


The Bobo!
Ben Nicholson and Patrick Heron
Ben Nicholson's hand writing

The boys at TAap have hired studio no.5 at St Ives School of Painting. So I volunteered myself as a resident for 10 days or so, and have been driving to St Ives from Falmouth to work there. Because of it being Easter, parking and generally moving about is tricky, but once I'm in the studio, there are no distractions other than myself and Bobo, which has been great. Lots of space to get messy, although I've squeezed myself onto a small table in the corner where it feels safe and cosy. There are marks in the room that were made by two of it's former residents, Ben Nicolson and Patrick Heron. One note says Dalai Lama 3.30 Drill Hall... which I'm guessing means that maybe he was on tour in Cornwall back in the 60's-70's??!

 I was hoping the experience would start me off on the right road for a show I have at Newlyn gallery later in the year. I was right it would, but after a visit from a friend and an uncomfortable feeling of  misfiring with what I had achieved on the first day, I somehow dug a little deeper and started painting for me, rather than a gallery and something happened.

My 'natural gait' at the moment is somewhere between harmony and a sense of misalignment or discomfort. My whole life I have seemed to reject perfection or at least the idea of perfection. Anything that is too new and shiny or too pretty is rejected in favour of those things that have a rough edge or something broken about them. I find beauty in the discarded and unwanted. I believe this is something that came from being at school and that vulnerable time of finding your place in or outside the groups that were formed there.

I now love that I like imperfections and believe my outlook on life is more honest, accepting and therefore more enjoyable, because of this.
But back to the work.... I have a love for colours, especially those that exist in nature. A more grounded, natural palette where harmony and contrast sit on the same plane. The colours are obviously from the same palette but contrast in their tone, shape and composition. I have always had a love of collage too, starting at college in my early 20's being influenced by Joseph Cornell, Jake Tilson, Vaughan Oliver, Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and many others more recent that have escaped my memory! So playing around with found pieces of paper here and from my travels abroad. 
It keys in with my preference for the antique, vintage, lived in look. Something I strive for in my work and my life, that the results look lived in, as if they own the space they exist within and look comfortable in their own placing, being at ease.

By being in a studio that has 'serious' artistic history and now being part of that history is such a privilege that I understand I may not have earned within the St Ives culture, but I do believe I have earned within the context of the artistic process and the life I lead as an artist. I feel comfortable along side the artists before me because I share the exact experiences they had and have, as an artist. Facing failure on a daily basis, fighting through the failures to the immense highs of self belief, through to doubt and crashing to the depths of giving up, while going back for more, day after day, into weeks, months and years and decades of the same process. This sense of self belief has been nurtured by being surrounded by fellow artists who have nothing other than a strong sense of practice.

So after the first 'happening' I went back after an Easter break of two days and got to it. The majority of the day was preparing myself and making unsatisfying marks, muddy paint brushes filled with uncontrollable paint until I decided to go home a bit early and cut my losses. It seems that when I make that decision I do my better work! These below were the results which I like a lot and will be investigating into more. It's a movement forward that I am enjoying so my current gait is going with the flow. I have two more days to go, with today feeling like an assessment, research day. So back to it tomorrow early.

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