A few weeks of utter agro….

My blog has unfortunately been very quiet of late. This is due to a couple of reasons. I had gone to a big country show at the end of July. It was to take part as a historical re-enactor, which is something I’ve been doing for well over twenty years, as a hobby. I drove two hours there, to get my car bogged down in mud. I had to be towed out, and having no idea where I was supposed to be going to camp there, told the tractor driver who towed me, to get me off the site. So I drove all the way back home. To say I was angry is a massive understatement! Something in me said, that I think something is wrong with my car, and low and behold this Wednesday I had to call the RAC out because my dash had stopped working. While waiting for the RAC man to turn up, I noticed a big damp patch under the car(this fortunately was outside my house!). I noticed that I could smell diesel! When the RAC came, they had a look and told me that the fuel tank had been drilled. So, around £40 worth of diesel had been pinched!! As for the dash, he said its probably because the binnacle’s had been shaken loose – probably as a result of the towing incident! So, I’m unable to go anywhere as I write this. I was in jeopardy of not getting two works entered in a contemporary art competition in the East Midlands this weekend because of it, but I think I may have got transport sorted. I’ve not been a happy bunny since all this happened, and I’ve yet to get the car sorted. Hopefully by the end of next week my car will be usable. As a consequence of all this, added to my health problems, I have decided to retire from historical reenactment. In the last few years I have personally experienced bullying, discrimination, hostility, antagonism and thoroughly bad behaviour behind the scenes of the hobby. Its this behaviour I can do without, so now my full focus is on my art. I still have a large camera collection, and I still intend to practice my photography as and when I can both digitally and with film. Hopefully in the next week or two, I will be back at the painting.

In the above photos you can see the oil spillage from what little diesel was left in the tank after the rest was pinched. The other photos show the mud still on the car since the end of July. This is after successive rain showers that washed most of it off!

I really hope September is a better month!

Andy.

I can now confirm the start of a new series of works!!

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“Hidden Monster” is a new series of works that I’m now working on. As a contemporary painter who lives day in day out with physical limitations due to spinal injury, and all the ripple effects that go with it, I want to make art that describes what its like to be in this position. You see, just having this injury is only one part of a complex series of issues. Being like this makes you lonely, isolated and vulnerable. You are rejected not only from your work, but also by people who you thought were friends. You are cast out, jobless, but still with all the bills you had when you were earning. You are forgotten about, cast away, left in your own four walls hidden from society. People keep a safe distance from you if you happen to get out, they talk over you as you sit to rest your bad legs. You become a ghost whilst still alive, a walking phantom. Then there’s the constant discomfort and pain, the fatigue, the zombie like state that this particular injury can leave you in sometimes for days at a time. Yet our lives are judged by people who have no clue what its like to live like this. The politicians and officials who could not even begin to imagine what its like at 48 years of age being cast out onto the proverbial scrap heap. However, through this subject, the motif or character in these works is a creative, and shows how the “hidden monster” still has something to give to society. Initially, these works will be two dimensional, paintings, drawings, occasional prints. However, I hope to branch into reliefs and sculpture with this interesting subject matter as well. It’ll be an interesting visual journey, of a subject that needs tackling.

The central character or motif is the masked man himself. Through this figure, the subject of pain, disability, isolation, rejection and so on can be expressed. Some of the works are obviously semi autobiographical, some will be more general in approach. Painful to look at, challenging to the eye, this figure will slowly transform through time. So for now, I’ll leave it here. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll see where this goes!

Cheers – Andy

Pain-ting, a painful pursuit!

For me personally, painting is painful. My condition/health problem, means I get tired very quickly. As a sufferer of a spinal injury, I can’t do half of what I used to. You see, when my intervertebral disc herniated and split, it pinched all the nerves in the cauda equina at the lumbar area of the spine. Initially, it rendered everything from the waist down completely numb, and unable to use my legs and everything else below that point. Thanks to the prompt surgery I received, I managed to learn to walk again and so on. However, I can’t walk anywhere without pain, and discomfort. I lose balance easily, and my ankles are extremely weak. Some days, I can’t even get out of bed, the legs just refuse to work! So, painting is painful.

So why do it then? Well apart from trying to sell art to keep the bank balance looking better than it often does most of the time, most artists will tell you the urge to create is very powerful if you’re that way inclined. I suppose its something you’re born with as an artist. Its an itch that has to be scratched. Today, I’ve just framed some boards for painting(just a thing that looks good on my particular pictures), ready for priming. Two boards hand sawn and nailed into two old frames. Most folks wouldn’t have had a problem, I’ve got to lie down for the next couple of hours!!

This condition is a real pain in the proverbials. I sometimes wish I could cut my legs off and get a pair of those blades, at least I could get around better! My legs always feel like I’ve got a ball and chain attached to both ankles. This is affecting my art as well. I have developed a motif that I intend using in my paintings. It comes from an old sculpture I made in 1986 at college. It was derived from a tribal mask, and oddly or prophetically, the piece was called “Tired”. Little did I know that thirty years later, I became tired due to disability and with limited mobility. I’ve decided to use the tribal mask and put this character into different compositions relevant to the modern world that I live in. So, here he is.

 

He could get thrown into all sorts of compositions, and scenarios, and is a vehicle for me as an artist trying to put across various messages and points of view. He will be my “the scream”, my visual voice if you see what I’m getting at. Watch this space as they say!

Andy

Today’s thoughts.

This week I’ve been getting on with all those niggling things, shopping, cleaning, and so on. Did some painting yesterday and painted myself into a corner, not knowing where to go with a particular work. Its sitting in the yard at the moment, I keep glaring and snarling at it through the kitchen window!

I was up early with the dogs this morning, and whilst having breakfast, I put on a fascinating documentary about Laurie Lipton the fabulous American artist, who does very intricate, large, macabre but technically brilliant pencil drawings(her website can be found at http://www.laurielipton.com). It got me thinking about stuff. Stuff to do with my life experiences, the crap situation I find myself in(ill health retired, living on less than half the money I used to bring in, yet same old bills to pay! Please tell me what a holiday is, I have this memory of me as a kid on something like it!). I worked ruddy hard in lots of different jobs, been managements play thing and got practically nowhere. I was sitting there, whilst the wages were revealed of various celebrities on TV. Posts about some politicians expenses claims in articles on social media and so on and so on. I sat on my sofa sub-conciously absorbing these stories and headlines. Then I thought, is modern life getting like some sort of contemporary Hieronymous Bosch painting? Constantly at you, little demons and crude folks rubbing it in all the time? Lots of agency’s, government departments, sales teams and marketing ploy’s pulling bits off your carcass, gnawing away until all that’s left is your damaged cadaver ready for burning, whilst the fat cats add another sports car or offshore powerboat to the fleet in their luxury homesteads. Has Laurie Lipton hit it on the head with some of her drawings? I think so. Here’s a link to a short film about her work – https://youtu.be/SuKuQkJvrSo

I’ve often had trouble dealing with people. As a kid it was just put down to shyness. It got really in my way, when at art college, you had to stand up and give lectures and talks either about your own work, or some historical art subject. I usually rambled on very quickly to get the whole uncomfortable experience out the way! I think they term this glossophobia. I have always had it, its a type of speech anxiety. Because I was ridiculed for it in the past, I have an aversion to anything from get togethers, opening nights or having to speak to groups of people. Consequently, there is a part of my mind that see’s people as some of those characters from a Bosch painting, and they lurk on the periphery of my vision, or the “normal” reasoning side of my mind. Whether that’s a way of dealing with this condition, well I never spoke to a psychiatrist to find out!

I’ve always had an inkling to dip into this, as subject matter for my creations. We’ll see what might be brought forth! Meanwhile the more abstracted works are still in production, awaiting new layers. Friday will see me back at the painting amongst other things. We’ll keep plugging away, and hopefully that eureka moment may come yet!

Andy

Being a lone lonely artist, gives me at least the freedom to try things!

Yes, I live most of my time alone. The house, I share with a woman who used to be my partner, but we decided to just share the house – lets say its complicated. We have two dogs who keep me company, and I love ’em to bits.

However, being a prisoner in this house(I occasionally get a day release to go shopping, or go out painting/photographing things), I have the opportunity to not just create paintings, but to experiment in other media and with other tools. Because I’m a painter(a medium which is still very much here and where critics and so called experts including a few YBA’s dared to ask if painting even had a future!!!!), it doesn’t mean I’m a dinosaur – well not yet anyway.

So today, I used modern digital applications, apps I believe the hipsters and “with it” types call them, and produced these. I like them, and I might work out one day to be able to create an actual physical piece of art out of them! Watch this space…..

Andy

A couple of new works completed today!

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“D.B.H and the amazing surreal lecture one day in 1986” 2017. Acrylic and oil on board. 73cm x 46cm.

This work is an example of my new approach to painting. Using a scene from an event in my student days, I’ve described the scene in just colour, marks and tonal composition.

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“Birmingham, banjo’s and Frank next to the easel” 2017. Acrylic and oil on board. 64cm x 50cm.

This work again is an example of my newly found way of processing a subject, and describing it in a whole mixture of colour, texture, applications and so forth.

D.B.H and Frank are people from certain points in my life who either made a very big impression, or I was fortunate to meet. Many other people will I’m sure play a big part in some of these works, what may have been discussed as in “Birmingham, banjo’s and Frank next to the easel”, or a fantastic event referred to in “D.B.H and the amazing surreal lecture one day in 1986”.

Unfortunately, photo’s on a computer screen obviously do not do justice to these works. You have to see them in the flesh. They have varying textures and layers of paint, from washes to thickly laid on impasto, scrapings and rubbed areas. They will be left outside to “weather” for awhile, then thick varnish applied to add a richness and depth to the tones. Hopefully, they’ll find their way to a gallery wall for all to see!

Andy

Getting the message out there – ARE YOU LISTENING?!!!!

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Yep, it seems its a fact nowadays, that an artist isn’t just one of those folk sitting in their dirty little paint splatted room, happily rolling around in paint, then phoning a few “art contacts” to get his/her pictures sold off. They have to be a marketing whiz kid.

Since I got back to art seriously after twenty plus years off from it(I was still selling art as a pastime for friends and other contacts whilst in a “proper job”), I’ve had one big culture shock, and I’m still having the tremors of it now. This big shock was that I have to spend more time on the computer I’m writing this blog on, than actually producing my paintings and drawings. Yep, I have to share my paintings on my website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and so and so on. This is how I spend a big chunk of my time, making a noise about myself online. I’m no computer geek, I’m not professionally trained in this sort of thing, so I have to bumble my way through it. I’ve looked at the myriad of articles on how to do this successfully, the vids on Youtube and so forth.

It seems to me, I just have to keep plugging away at it, a lot here, a lot there. Hopefully, one day, an email, a link, a tweet might just land onto the screen of one of the big arts promoter/patron/consultants iPads, and hey presto – the golden door of entering the premiership art league might just get opened!! Mind you, if it did happen, they’ll probably wonder what they’ve let through that door!

Actually, thinking about it, I haven’t mentioned what the end result is, that I’m looking for, the final result, the place of artistic nirvana. What my goal is, is simple. I want to have my own studio, I want to have the space to create the works I want to create. I want to have the room to experiment and push the medium as far as I can. I want to be known as a contemporary painter, that regularly sells work, and is exhibited and collected. That’s what most artists want isn’t it? That’s the dream, there you are I’ve said it.

ANDY IS AN ARTIST – well, not the one I want to be yet.

Andy.

Ever experienced hostility over your art? Does your style cause conflict?

I think my art does! I’ve experienced it first hand. My contemporary work causes much in the way of opinionated remarks and looks of disdain. I actually had an old contact tell me it was “B******S!!!” Yet, paint a chocolate box twee pretty landscape, and some of these folks pat you on the back! They pour over it with glowing remarks and even dip into their wallets and bung you a few quid for it! What I find amazing though, is if you look at some of these folk, ask them what music they listen to? They’ll mention some heavy rock band, electro trance artist or even punk! Some even, can’t stand listening to Vivaldi, Wagner or Elgar! Why can’t these people accept modern contemporary visual art, yet they accept modern contemporary music? It’s a question I’ve often asked myself. I mean, they’ll rave over a trendy piece of art on the cover of their favourite bands cd or album(there’s a big collectors market for them), yet can’t stand a painting that to them doesn’t resemble anything. I have friends who like my representational/figurative art, yet not many like the contemporary art I do and that now takes up most of my time. Yet on social media platforms the contemporary paintings get a huge amount of favourable responses. One friend has stated that “that modern art s**t is just a big con!” “Okay” I said, “does that mean the trance music you’ve just been listening to in your car is a con?” They had to think about that one. Here is some of the art that I’ve done in the past that gets full support from about 85% of my friends and relations –

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You see, the problem I have with doing the above type of work(and please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing it, and this is no reflection on figurative art or those who do it), is that it doesn’t further the art of painting in my opinion. I want to, in my own humble way, create a new language in paint, shake off the shackles and restraints of “traditional” painting, and create totally new and interesting creations. So how do I do this? Well, I used to what I call “render down” a subject into its visual parts and simplify the image, or blur it to create in paint an almost abstract image. I’m now using a different method of describing a subject in just tone, colour and random marks, to create a new work of art.

The thing is, the folk who prefer my figurative works, ask the question – “why do that?”

I could be wrong, but I think Jackson Pollock said something about – just accepting it as a painting, you accept a bed of flowers and don’t question it, so why question a painting? – or something like that. Its called progression, I call it in my working practice – moving on. If the great modern painters hadn’t of questioned different ways of looking and painting in the late 19thc, we’d all still be surrounded by old 17thc and 18thc images(and yes I do appreciate art from all periods of history)! Musically, we’d still be having string quartets and classical guitar music on our radios. I believe, as a contemporary painter, its my job to create my own personal way of looking, and push the boundaries as much as the medium allows. Obviously, you can take it a level further and say the medium is dated, I should be doing this in digitised format! However, artists since the days of the earliest cave art, have used what is to hand, and still in the twenty first century, paint is here, still being used and is available. Whilst paint is still available, I can produce these in my style –

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So this is the case for the defence of my contemporary works so to speak, this “B******S!” as it was so eloquently described! Painting almost became totally ignored in the late 80’s and 90’s in the hotbed of fashionable and trendy art in the cultural centre’s like London and New York. The big installations of the 70’s and 80’s had become minimalised into smaller and in some cases visually shocking and deliberately repulsive 3D art. Painting was almost an irrelevance. Thankfully its back, and has been for awhile. Those of us who paint, whether figuratively or in other ways, have to be the custodian’s of it and push it into new realms of creativity. We need to keep it fresh and thriving, and in the public eye, where it should be.

These are just my thoughts on this subject, you are of course free to disagree!

Andy.

 

 

A shout out for Art Alert, an arts organisation in Nuneaton and surrounding area.

Today, I spent a pleasant couple of hours at Nuneaton train station, in the newly created Art Alert Gallery. Art Alert is a local arts organisation I’d joined a couple of months ago, however with everything I had on my plate I just hadn’t had chance to get to any of their meetings or events, until today.

It was their AGM, and I was very impressed at the energetic and pro-active way they tackle the issue of getting art into the community. Whether that be by local exhibitions, art trails or workshops, it seems to be working and everyone was very upbeat. I strongly recommend anyone local who has a passion for arts and crafts, to get in touch! Their website can be found at http://www.artalertnuneaton.co.uk

– Andy