Speed and Complexity. Despite the misunderstandings I seemed to create with my last posting, I refuse to be intimidated! So you may notice a subtle variation, namely, me trying to be clearer and more explicit in my attempts to ponder on the second branch of that same plank (OK, so planks don’t have branches but they do kind of come from them, don't they?).
Anyway, if my final remarks last time didn’t convince, I wonder if this entry will succeed any better. Can we establish that when I talk of speed, I mean the manner of attack within producing a work, and not the overall time it takes to complete it: more like the pulse or tempo within a piece of music.
If we think of great painters who worked quickly and directly (and the ones that leap to mind are the Impressionists), because of ever-changing climatic conditions and all the other variables beyond our control, which all plein air painters face, they had little choice... (click "Read more")
Such direct attack helps to give their paintings that spontaneous and lively feel most of us love. Being continually frustrated by constantly changing light – if only the arc of the sun changing shadowed areas etc - I no longer paint this way much any more, and need a more controlled environment. To illustrate this, I once spent a whole day painting an unfolding frond of fern, and finally realised I was concentrating so hard I could actually see the frond unfurling; the painting was therefore, in one sense, forever inaccurate.
As my working practice developed I realised I was seeking more than an impression of spontaneity - something much more permanent and, yes, complex. This, of course, was also what Cezanne sought, but he lived in Provence and had a private income. Both those things helped his concentration I’m sure. I greatly admire painters who are able to work outdoors in this country, and produce work that is deep, considered and reflective, or have found a way to cope with the idiocies that defeat me.
The issue I continually confront now is the merging of directness and simplicity of technique with the complexity I speak of: by which I mean consolidating composition of drawing, texture, layering, palette, colour values, tonality etc and, very important for me, the psychological impact I’m forever exploring.