27 May 2009


The last 45 minutes were almost a joy, my painting was carefree and purposeful, the gnawing in my gut faded to the background, and SPQR took a pleasing leap towards completion (no photos yet though, I’d only pick holes in it.)

I resolved, when I arrived, not to turn the computer on just to see how much I could get done.It seems a good decision, I didn’t have the urge to report every thought I had, and every movement I made.This has reaffirmed my suspicions that having the internet in here would be a calamitous development.

Right, back to werk.

It would appear I may have been a tad rash when I admonished Lamp Black in favour of Ivory Black a few weeks ago.  Lamp Black does have a place in my palate. Ivory Black has a tendency to dry grey-ish and murky (must be the charred bones they put in it). I want the BLACK-EST of BLACKS. I want clarity of colour fading to darkness. Welcome back Lamp Black. 

So it goes on: knocking back colour and bringing in the darkness. Uninhibited brush-strokes, a feeling of goodness… just werking away without any over-complicating thought process. This is how it should be, a natural, easy, stress-free operation. And I’ve worn down this brush by a good few millimetres as proof of my hard werk. 

It’s felt damp all day, but there’s suddenly a real chill in the air. Maybe it’s the Tindersticks on the Pod of i, maybe it’s because I’ve paused for a moment’s consideration, maybe it’s just the wet English summer creeping up the ladder to make itself felt. 

Today I have made real progress. Today was not a chore. Today was a turning point.

20 May 2009

Procrastinations of a Wednesday Painter

I often think I should have named this blog ‘Procrastinations of a Wednesday Painter’. I find myself more and more prone to extended bouts of it. I wake up each Wednesday, and idle in bed later and later. And when I finally arrive at “the studio” it takes me longer and longer to get started. I feel like every time I come back I start back at zero, as if the progression of the previous week has been wiped off the slate, and I need to re-learn and re-do, taking those first tentative steps again and again. It’s a confidence thing, by the end of the day I will be taking bold leaps and making bold decisions. But right now I’m timid and unsure.

I just took SPQR outside to check progress in natural light. Of course, you don’t really need to know that. (I don’t even find it peculiar anymore that I am addressing this to an audience that, as far as I know, does not exist. Is anybody there?)

Anyway, I digress, SPQR will be rested for a week, and then I will knock back some of the glow and let in the darkness. But what to werk on this week?

Just had a tea break which developed into another bout of procrastination – Sat down with a guitar and strummed away on some half-finished songs. At least it was creative procrastination, I suppose.

I am now trying to figure out the next step towards the perfect white neon glow.

You join me in the post-lunch lull. Werk has come to a complete standstill. I have too many options and not enough bravado. There are at least 5 canvases crying out to be taken in hand and led towards completion. And me? I’m paralysed. I can talk about it, analyse it, chastise myself for it, but I can’t find it in myself to act. I could take another breather, or I could take the bull by the horns…

I’ve not exactly risked a goring, but I have done a bit of werk. I propped a canvas on the easel, and it was clear that the whites were in need of attention. So I set about making them brighter and whiter than Simon Cowell’s teeth. It’s not a particularly creative line of werk, but it needs to be done. Call it essential maintenance.

The most rash thing I did in the interim period was to kick my stool over without looking where it would fall. It toppled harmlessly on a paper plate and an old sock…

I’ve talked (to myself) before about this fear I have of finishing paintings. I don’t think it’s a fear of actually finishing them per se, more a fear of messing up what I’ve done before. As I said at the beginning of this post, I feel like every week when I come back to these werks, I have to re-learn everything I went through the previous week in order to build up the confidence I had last time at the close of play. The only way I can see of eliminating this setback would be to paint for a few solid days in a row, so that it (eventually) becomes a more natural activity. But could I really devote more time to it – it would mean more days away from home and from Verity…

3 red stripes whitened, 5 more to go… number 4 done, fresh air and daylight break… I’m back to take on 5, 6, 7 and 8… 5 and 6 are freshly white… and 7 and 8.

Today I have painted 20 letters and 11 stripes white.

13 May 2009

The struggle

Not feeling particularly sparky today, so bear with me if I get a little tetchy.

I’m back werking on SPQR after I gave it a fallow week (these neon paintings often need a rest after each layer to allow the paint to dry a bit before over-painting – hence a “fallow period”).

It is 10.46am. I haven’t done a thing yet. Right now I feel like writing the whole day off and going back to bed.

It is now 11.56am. I have werked up another layer, and I think I deserve a tea break.

2.30pm. Still struggling, but still here.

3.50pm. I have been werking and werking on this purple neon. I cannot tell if it’s heading towards completion, or if it has all been in vain. The harsh fluorescent lighting in here isn’t helping. I’ve taken photo after photo and every one has picked out the Cobalt Blue. To the naked eye it appears far more Cobalt Violet.

It is 4.44pm. I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.

6 May 2009

White Light

Today is all about white neon. I have had interest shown in a painting that has languished in an unfinished state for a number of months. Unfinished because I had not yet decided what colour the neon should be (this because I have not yet successfully painted neon over an existing ground). It sits at the top of the loft hatch, looming over the ladder, a monolithic 118cm x 165cm – A simple , heartfelt declaration: “I THINK OF YOU AND I SMILE”.

All that the potential buyer has seen of it is a view like this:

I have pointed out that it is unfinished, and that I will not be happy letting it go if it doesn’t meet my standards. But maybe I should put pride and artistic temperament aside and let “the customer” decide. It’s not a decision I take lightly – I’m not here for some capitalist joyride, but I do need to pay the rent. And eat.

This is all hypothetical really, because if the damn thing is too big for its prospective home, it will stay here. Still it’s got me fired up to ACTUALLY FINISH a painting, and I’m super keen to depict some serene white neon.

Aside: I neglected to charger Le Pod d’i. We’re running on red, so today I will mostly be listening to 6music. I am saving precious battery power for the dark hours of 10am to 1pm (when G**rg* L*mb and his relentless gooning taints the airwaves).

10.17am: I have been caught up in all this TALK of werk for too long. Time to DO. First, a bit of colour mixing to test which combinations mix with the greatest clarity.

1.30pm: It is DONE. I have been hard at werk filling in neon lettering.

Wildlife watch: I found the remains of a bird’s egg just outside the door. It is sad, but it is a beautiful delicate thing.

A spot of red neon painting, then more white neon. I have a couple of small canvases I started a while ago. This one reads SSSHH.

Today was all about white neon.

2 May 2009

Christmas / Devil in Paradise

On Thursday we finally celebrated our Miss Pain Christmas. A bit late I know, but we've all been too busy with other things to get round to wrapping each other's presents and getting together.

We celebrated at Sarah's and drank red wine and Rumona (a Rum based liquor which we nicknamed Rumbago), she even put up a tree and had crackers!

I made Sarah a Mills & Boon style painting:

Devil in Paradise, 2008, oil on canvas, 50cm x 40cm