Archive for November, 2009

I am Blackpaint

November 30, 2009

Why Blackpaint?  Because I’m using a lot at the moment, sweeping it around my canvases as if I were Kline or Motherwell, but without the vision.  Unlike them, I use it for cheap dramatic effect.  I like blue too, especially Prussian, as well as blues music – but somebody beat me to Bluepaint, and Charcoal too, so Blackpaint it is.

I paint sort of abstract stuff; I say “sort of” because they usually come out looking like something – just nothing on Earth (except abstract paintings).  I usually paint in the early hours, mostly sober.  Canvas on the floor, I slap, or actually tip acrylic paint on and mix colours on the canvas.  I cut shapes into the paint with charcoal which splinters and sifts about, dirtying the painting up.  I find this gives it a bit of “bottom”, stops the colours being too pretty or vivid; gives it a sort of Englishness that goes with our light.  I think Adrian Searle remarked on that in relation to early Hockney (again, no comparison intended!)

Sometimes, I scribble and mash into the canvas with oil pastel when all else fails to produce something viable; but I’ve found you have to be careful not to paint over oil pastel with acrylic later, because it cracks like leather (looks quite good, actually) and scrapes off really easily if, for instance, you stack canvases against each other.

I try to paint every day, but I don’t sell much; maybe £1000 a year.  I sell cheap – the most I’ve made on a single canvas is £250.  Luckily, I’ve got just enough to live on and pay the bills even if I don’t sell; I couldn’t buy paints and canvases though.

I don’t care much about getting good prices, but I like to sell because it means someone has been prepared to part with money to hang my stuff on their wall – I need that validation, being self-taught.  The only training I’ve had since leaving school some considerable time ago is a life drawing and painting class once a week.

Being a Londoner,  I’m up to the Tates and the Nat and the Hayward all the time.  I’ve seen the Ruscha and the Baldessari and the Balka but not the Kienholz prostitutes yet – maybe tomorrow afternoon?

The first time I went into the Balka box was a Saturday afternoon and it was full of screaming and posturing schoolkids and foreign students, every second one with an illuminated mobile phone  held high; apparently the artist didn’t want to dictate how people were to behave in his installation.  The second time was first thing on a Wednesday morning, not many people about and this time, a notice  asking no mobiles etc.  Groped forwards in a darkness that swallowed you up, cliche I know, but I watched a couple disappearing as they went in, as if into a cloud of soot; very eerie.  Then inevitably, my eyes adjusted and the blackness became just dimness, and the effect receded.

Also inevitably, since the artist is from Cracow, there are associations with Auschwitz and the box looks a bit like an enormous cattle truck…    

The other thing I wanted to say is also crashingly obvious (but that has never stopped me before); how a picture that you love one day can leave you stone-cold on another.  I’m thinking of the Joan Mitchell in the Tate Modern – one day, very complex, nuanced, absorbing, subtle; another day, a depressing mass of greys and creams.  Or the Asger Jorn with the little globular figures smiling out at you ; some days, the colours are fresh and bright and sing to you; others, they are dull, dirty, livid and depressing.  Sometimes too, you have to see them from a distance, say, across the gallery; that Motherwell in the surrealism bit is brilliant from a distance but nothing much close to. 

But the Picassos always blast out from the walls – the Cubisty one in same room looks to be climbing out!

In the paper (Observer) yesterday, story about Kieron Williamson, seven year old who started painting landscapes and churches and harbours a year ago and sold out an exhibition in 15 minutes, making £17,000; some bidders were reduced to tears by the paintings.  Compared to the boy Picasso by the gallery owner.  his father is a freelance dealer.  Reminds me of that little girl in the States who was painting abstracts a few years back, and selling for thousands – but this time it’s “proper” pictures that look like something.

Anyway – I have to stop now.  Back tomorrow. 

Listening to Cannonball Blues by Furry Lewis;  Viola Lee Blues by Cannon’s Jug Stompers; Trinity River Blues by TBone Walker.

“I wrote a  letter, I mailed it in the, mailed it in the air indeed Lord,

I wrote a letter, I mailed it in the air,

So you know by that I have a friend somewhere”.

Blackpaint 29.11.09

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November 30, 2009

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