The paintings I’ve been working on for a while now are starting to look like a series. One leads onto the next. I don’t experiment so much along the way. Whilst working on one new ideas or variations arise that may subsequently become the basis for a future painting.
The current chain of work is following very much that pattern, but I have recently been working on a scaled-up variation of earlier pieces. It takes a little longer to complete, but also adds the possibility for greater complexity and delicacy in the layout. With a little more time on my hands this week I’ve been able to push it the 120cm wide painting to completion.
Essentially the work is three seascapes overlayed on each other. A sea horizon cuts across, perfectly horizontal, a second corrupted/disturbed horizon seems to follow, but doesn’t follow, the apparent folds in the composition and on top of everything is a swirling, churning sky bringing its own unrest.
The templates are cut for the next in the series, which will no doubt in due course follow.
Two weeks ago I visited the Vermeer exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Just fantastic to see. The famous Dutchman is only too well known for his slow rate of production, but also his fine labour intensive way of working. I don´t want to draw parallels between Vermeer and myself, but it does make me feel a little better about how long it seems to take me to finish a painting. Today one reached completion, reason enough to share it.
The progress may be slow, but the results are good and do seem to be starting to form a quite rich and well-resolved series. There is undoubtedly more to be achieved in this area, so hopefully more will follow.
Around fifteen years ago I made a series of drawings that were prompted by the increasing awareness of the storm clouds of climate change gathering on the horizon. Alongside this was the feeling that society and our leaders were showing little inclination for action. A human trait you might say, we prefer to sit on the edge of, or swim in, the comfort of our metaphorical swimming pool while the sky turns, grey, purple and black.
We hide from the confrontation, preferring to seek the security of short-term comforts and pleasures.
My drawings weren’t complex, I’ve always thought that this was the strength of these particular pieces. The isolation of the apparently tranquil pools in the turbulent landscapes around them. In other pieces figures stare into the pools that are in fact an Arcadian and idealized visions of the world, lifted from the history of art.
I spent Saturday on the streets of Amsterdam, along with 45000 other marchers, calling for greater action on the more and more pressing problems that climate change is bringing. As I walked, I was thinking of these drawings in particular. I was also reflecting on whether I actually wanted to spend the day in over-crowded trains and walking with thousands on the streets with Covid cases again on the rise? No, absolutely not. I would have preferred to have been at home, amusing myself in my studio perhaps. And there perhaps lies the problem, we all prefer to do those other things. We all prefer not to have to confront difficult or uncomfortable challenges. We can all do small things to contribute, but perhaps more than anything else we need to get our leaders to act and as a society we need to elect those who are prepared to act.
Today is the day to take my drawings out of the drawer and send them back out into the world, they are as relevant as ever.