following on the from the photos of the saltmarsh in the last post, I’ll take you through painting developments in the last month or so. one has been a constant flow of painterly finds from my friend’s blog Breathing story

this is a work on paper by Idris Murphy, a well respected Australian painter of landscape, both in Australia and in Europe.

I think my best work so far is informed by my own landscape and still life paintings, such as this landscape I painted about a year ago.

I follow Lewis Noble on facebook, his working methods, and his paintings are inspirational, though I wouldn’t go on one of his courses in case I found myself painting just like him! but the collage under the paint on this and most of my abstract paintings is a direct influence, he tears up sketches and pools their information in a collaged work on paper, then uses torn paper to block out parts of paintings. what I’m doing is directly collaging torn abstract sheets painted with ink and water colour onto the canvas before I start, plus now, I’m tearing bits out of the newspaper, from topical articles, and pasting them onto the canvas, sometimes text from them survives, sometimes it doesn’t.

this one, Called, 70 x 50 cm on linen, I painted late last year, and the newspaper came from the sheets of newspaper I was using to protect the table, a couple of years old, before the Guardian became tabloid size …

another element – I bought some marble dust for texture, having investigated a big tub of black “earth paste” left over from early attempts to paint with acrylic. it’s very crunchy – this is it in the black door shape.

lured by hellebores I worked on a couple of still life paintings (this is 40 x 40cm)

and this 30 x 30 cm (painted the next day). both painted over last summer landscapes I decided weren’t good enough to keep. I like painting on these lumpy surfaces, it loosens me up. and I was pleased with this looseness, due to the under painting/drawing being done with a big brush. I was also very taken with the spiky seed pods in these hellebores.

the same afternoon I painted this, a small canvas 30 x 24 cm, and it has bits of the flower arrangement in it, and some messing about in the thick paint with palette knife marks grown on from the seed pods in the first two. other elements like the speckle of the vase and the lush pinks and greens are directly from the same paint mixed for the still lifes.

I decided I liked the size and shape of the previous one and have done a few more

hints of landscape in these two.

meanwhile I have things on the go in oils. I find it much harder to work with – suddenly the fluid acrylic is perfect and oil seems stiff and too opaque. this one had a lot of layers, but at last the slow drying time of the oil was an asset, as I went back the next day after working on it and scraped lots off! it’s a canvas 50 x 50 cm.

this one had lots of layers in preparation, and the last one under what you can see here was newspaper torn from the front page of the Guardian the day after the Christchurch mosque massacres. a small amount of text and parts of words are still legible if you look for them. the blue “door” or perhaps vase has marble dust in the paint. it’s another 50 x 50 canvas.

this is a 30 x 24 cm canvas, you can see “truth” emerging from the paint.

I have a crackle paste – well I tried it and it didn’t crackle, but it was very thick. also on this one are some gold mica flakes, and they have become a feature of the last few paintings. this one is 30 x 30 cm, on canvas.

after taking the photos of the marsh I should really have done some drawings – this is as near as I’ve come. again, many layers, newspaper I’ve managed to cover over completely, and gold mica flakes. 50 x 50 cm.

on the same day this one arrived. a vase? a doorway? nothing intended … 30 x 30 on linen. it’s currently my favourite. another thing to think about with abstract painting is the Japanese concept of empty space, the space between things, ma.

not so much emptiness in this one, it’s the whirling whirligig of the west … 30 x 24 again.

and then this is the last, finished this week, after much struggling and ghastliness. I went up to the studio shed at 6 in the dusk to paint over the whole thing with gesso, and found myself making new marks, with the black earth paste and then some scraping back and a lot of deep scoring with the palette knife. next thing it was looking quite cool and mysterious … and connected with some writing I’m doing, a palimpsest poem about Doggerland and old age, and so this is named from a line in my poem – “of creatures thawing” – it’s 50 x 50 cm.


scratching and scoring and fluid paint

and yes, those gold mica flakes ….

there’s more to come, I have 3 canvases in the shed with newspaper and stuff stuck on them …

there are more photos to incorporate

and a dog to walk