Saturday, 15 November 2008

Nothing New

As some wag said: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun..."[Eclesiastes 1:9]

It would make you sick: just when you think you are doing great you turn a corner, go into a gallery, and see that it has all been done before - only better!

I'd been reading about "free abstraction" as done during the 1950's by the English artist Gillian Ayres ["...(her) painting refuses to present an image that might invite pictorial interpretation, or that might propose any analogy beyond that manifest in the energetic distribution of pigmented material across a characterless fabricated surface" (usually hardboard) to quote Mel Gooding in his 2001 biography of GA ]. I decided after reading this that what was required was to cast off inhibition and make my own attempts allowing my subconscious, and brush, free reign.

After a good few, stilted, disasters these three appeared out of the chaos of my mind:

Acrylics on paper, 60x45cm:"Free Abstraction #7";

Acrylics on paper, 60x45cm:"Free Abstraction #8";

Acrylics on paper, 45x60cm:"Free Abstraction #9";
There is no attempt to represent anything. What I am searching for is an expression of something intangible, ungraspable, inexpressable in words. They won't 'mean' anything to anyone else, but they mean something to me and gave me great satisfaction.


...until I walked into Roger Billcliffe's gallery in Glasgow and was astonished to see these fabulous freely expressed abstractions by Gail Harvey, a Glasgow artist now based in Shetland:

Mixed media on canvas, 177x152cm:"Journey";

Mixed media, 99x69cm:"Blue on the Horizon"
These just blew my socks off! I said to the young guy at the desk "these just look like one of my favourite artists Duncan Shanks, to which he replied - "Aye, she was taught by him!". to which I retorted:"I wish I had been taught by him too!".
Go and have a look at her stuff for yourselves here:
I have run out of words (at the moment) to describe just how much I love this stuff!


my croft said...

I think I know how you feel. For me it's more "and then there was Raphael" after which why do any of us bother?

For the fun of the thing, of course, and the solace, and the challenge, and because how dull would the music be with only voice -- at least, that's why I sometimes bestir myself to bother. ;-)

Philip said...

Well your paintings do mean something to me. We do live in an abstract world in all sorts of ways - I hope I have helped to illustrate this with recent photos on my blog.

You clearly have an eye for abstractions but as I have suggested before - I think you should go one step further with multi-layering of the paint. It would give the work greater depth. You have got the designs right. You could start off with painting a canvas in a single colour (I often do this) and then start adding the actual picture. It also helps to thin the paint down sometimes so the original colour (or colours)show through.

I hope this makes sense and is helpful. Try it!

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Raphael who, Melanie?
Only jesting :o)
You are right we do it "for the fun of the thing..."

This might sound strange, Philip, but when I dream these things up my initial marks seem somehow complete and I don't know how to add to them. I hear what you are saying re layering and I know instinctively you are right. Probably I am just lazy, but often I don't know where to go next to finish the idea.
Must try harder.
Thanks for your helpful comments!

Andrea Kobayashi 小林アンドレア said...

Don't 'try harder', just aim for maximum enjoyment. More paint; more fun!

my croft said...

I think this bit about the layering may be an issue of taste vs. craft -- I was just reading a bit about Matisse's cut-outs, that he felt these were his best work because (if I've got this right) by painting papers with gouache then cutting into them, he could eliminate the distinction between line and field by drawing with color, the scissors being the mechanism of drawing. And Mondrian seems to have made do with pure color. I can;t go much beyond these two examples because my art history etceteras are very limited, but I think you can make a vvirtue of your preferences by emphasizing them rather than fighting them. "Ride the horse in the direction it's going" is often a good practice.

Philip said...

I suppose its a question of whether you regard this as a finished work or not? Others seem to think if you are happy that it's finished then it's finished. I am not saying otherwise.

I like the design of the second one especially.

Lyrically speaking said...

I am loving the vibrant colors...nice work, I need to go back to abstract, haven't done one in a while

Melinda said...

Wow, David. These are spectacular. Your love for abstraction, expressionism and the gist of a thought is communicated in these works in a way that is truly new and inspiring.

Thanks for the link to Gail's work. I think she should keep an eye on're going to be serious competition.

It is good to see you find your voice!

Edgar said...

It's all about the marks, man. Love to see you reaching for the completely non-verbal image! Pure color and space.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

I must have taken a left at Albuquerque!

So what's beeen goin' on here?

Hi y'all!

Andea: I always have to try harder, otherwise I would get nuthin' done! I always try to get max enjoyment - otherwise I feel that I'm wasting my time! "More paint, more fun" will become my mantra from now on!

Melanie and Philip: I guess for me it's a question of somewhere in between. Now I'm not trying to cop-out here (just to be nice, even tho' I am) I just recognise that a bit of working-over might not be amiss. Even the object of my new-found admiration (Gail Harvey) does a little extra layering.

Melanie - two eceteras is one more than me, but what if you are riding bare back, back to front?
(I love these imponderables!)

I thank you both for trying to make me think harder (not that it worked, but it was fun!)

Cathy: it's so nice to have you visit again! Abstraction may not be all it is cracked up to be but it's certainly got me going :o)

Melinda, Melinda (oh, you know the rest...) you didn't need to say anything beyond the word "spectacular". Grazie mille!

And Edgar, dude: As we would say here in Scotland - "Pure colour and space is pure dead brilliant!"
Thank you very much for your encouragement. If I rumage around some more I'll see what I can drag up!

And, by the way, Scotland gubbed Argentine tonight 0-1. Well it could have been 0-6 to the Argies!
[for the uninitiated I'm talking about football, and for the Americans among us I'm talkin' about 'soccer'! Ha, join the International community!]

And another result: as a postscript to my letter to the Council about my wee pal Leo: The Executive Director of Community Resources, South Lanarkshire Council, wrote me (in person) a decent letter apologising for the "additional grief" caused by their not having the equipment to scan a dead animal. They are looking at implementing this procedure in the near future. I'm pleased they recognise the depth of feeling I have experienced in losing my very best pal whom I miss like crazy!

Melinda said...

Albuquerque, indeed!

David, amigo,
You've been art 'tagged' at my blog and I'm hoping you'll receive this gesture as one of admiration for your kind heart and spectacular artwork. My hope is that more viewers will get a chance to see your work.

Thank you for being such an inspiration.

daviddrawsandpaints said...


Melinda, etc, etc,

La mia amica....

What a lovely thing to have conferred on me!

Your very kind words have got me blushing (and that's not easy for a bloke from the West of Scotland who knows that anything arty-farty is definitely woosey)

But here's the thing (with the rebel rising in me)I would love to accept the accolade but I'm afraid I can't fulfil what's required of me. Since two of my favourite artist/bloggers have already been accounted for (yourself and Melanie) I would be struggling to complete the required number of seven. Not because I don't know of suitable candidates, but because I have an aversion to asking people to participate in this way.
I am more than happy to regale the world of my own dull life if they are daft enough to read it but I am uncomfortable with asking others to do the same.
Sorry to be such a spoilsport. I hope this doesn't affect the close cameraderie we feel for one another?
Il suo amico,

Melinda said...

Oh, David,
Of course it won't affect our camaraderie! I understand completely! I was hesitant myself to participate and carefully reviewed why I might go ahead and do it. I relented for three reasons. One, it wasn't an award that may make others feel left out (like some of the blog awards circulating), it was a way to provide a little personal history without being too personal and three, it is a way to support those bloggers who are not in the mainstream of blog o' conversation. There is a developing heirarchy that I'd like to resist as much as possible.

I did worry that it may be too much of a chore or too awkward to pass along.

You will continue to be an artist I enjoy visiting and look forward to more wonderful work and pleasant repartee!

mawakeley said...

Your three abstracts are really excellent and I especially favor the first one. They are loose and free and feel good not to mention spontaneous.

I can see why you fell for Gail Harvey's pieces. It doesn't hurt that they are in your favorite shades but they do speak beautifully and harmoniously.

Thanks so much for sharing these images. I'm off to see more of her work, and am looking forward to seeing what you'll be posting next!!


p.s. a belated thanks for your most recent visit to my blog:)

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Thanks for your comments Marianna!

I should perhaps have mentioned earlier to my other correspondents too that the other source of inspiration for this manner of painting was Helen Frankenthaler who usually stained her canvases I believe with single applications of paint and stopped. I want to go a bit further but when I paint thickly in layers I murder the life out of it! I'll post a couple later to demonstrate.
Always a pleasure to hear from you and have a blether :o)

And Melinda (x3),
I'm very pleased you will still visit, but I fear my current work in the studio is not very wonderful at all :o(

harrybell said...

I like your free abstracts, but was surprised at your reference to Duncan Shanks and Gail Harvey in that neither represent the criterion you set out - that the picture should refuse "to present an image that might invite pictorial interpretation." Both Shanks and Harvey are expressionist landscape painters, although I grant that Harvey's paintings are moving progressively away from imagery.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

I'm glad you like my attempts at free abstract painting Harry, with the self-imposed non-objective criteria, but you needn't have been surprised at my blogging about Gail Harvey and Duncan Shanks, even if it was in the same breath almost, since their 'abstractions' of reality also give me great enjoyment.

harrybell said...

My mistake. I thought perhaps you were suggesting that they were examples in the same mould as Gillian Ayres. I see now that wasn't the case. Sorry ;)

Edgar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melinda said...

Oops! I made an error and deleted the previous message.
Ah, yes! Helen Frankenthaler. I really enjoy her work. The staining bit is intriguing. I'm glad you're looking at her. There is someone else online that you might want to visit, too. Check out an artist's journal. She's been quite prolific lately in abstracts. Also, Arty Fice is sending people your way as a result of his being tagged. You might like his comment.
Say, have you ever viewed paintings by Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollack's wife and peer? She might also be of interest.

I couldn't merely stain canvasses either. I would have to glob on paint somewhere!

daviddrawsandpaints said...

No problem Harry, perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough ;o)

And Me-lin-da: I don't know what to make of Edgars comments. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, to be happy or sad. It's not every day a chap gets lifted up and put down all in the same sentence. Now the world knows me for a bit of a party-pooper!
I am at least grateful for the Moley_x mention.
Also, I can definitly say that I like an_artists_journal's abstract Pecan Pie!
And as for Lee Krasner I have never been entirely captured by her paintings. I will have to look and consider some more to be able to give you some response. Obviously you like her work. Perhaps you can tell me what you see?

Anonymous said...

I am doing research for my college thesis, thanks for your great points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

- Laura