Journal

Five things this Friday

Oil stick on A3 Kraftpaper

Five drawings I made this week

Some artworks are planned, drawn up and then executed, others are intuitive and their direction is unknown. These drawings are the latter and feel like a natural extension of the doodles I’ve been making.

Looking at them I’m reminded of:

  • John Reynolds drawings (due to the materials),
  • the work of George Baselitz,
  • and the mid-career drawings and paintings of Philip Guston.

Also in my mind is a story my foundation tutor, Mick Maslen, once told us. When he was at art school, doodling and not really sure of what to do, his tutor told him to “Keep churning them out”. Week after week, “Keep churning them out”. And this is how I feel about these works – while I’m far from lost, I know I need to keep on making them, to let them develop and see where they’re going.

Material differences

The difference in quality between a 50 cent hard crayon and $16 oil stick is quite something. The crayon is hard (Doh!), waxy, and not loaded with pigment whereas the oil stick is buttery, soft, and a little sticky. These qualities lead to quite different drawings. With the oil stick I’m more relaxed, my body feels looser – I don’t have to force the stick across the surface, it slips and slides with an ease. The difference is fascinating, and after trying the crayon it’s such a relief to go back to using the oil stick. It’s not that the oil stick is necessarily better than the crayon, it’s just that right now, for these drawings, the oil stick is just what is needed.

Detail from oil stick drawing. Featured image: Crayon drawing (left) Oil stick drawing (right) both on A3 Kraftpaper

Five things this Friday – 23 February, 2018

After last week’s five works over 20 years, here are five works from the last five years…

1

Less Use, 2013 acrylic on wooden panels (2 pieces) 400 × 1620 × 80mm

Rejected from a couple of competitions this work sold immediately when shown with PaulNache in Gisbourne (not that sales are the only measure as to whether a work is any good or not). For me, this piece somehow embodied much of what I learnt from my residency at SNO in Sydney. A favourite of mine for sure.

2

Work #52, 2014 acrylic on canvas 200 × 250mm

The final work from my year long 52 weeks, 52 works, 52 colours project.

3

The colour of Courtenay Place, 2015 Light boxes, Wellington

My first public art project. Several people commented on how the monochromes changed the nature of the light boxes from places where images are displayed to sculptural objects.

4

Offset, 2016 acrylic on linen 500 × 500mm

2016 was a comparatively quiet one for me. I started my daily monochrome project to build up some momentum in my practice again. This work, a variation of the monochrome, was one of a pair, the other work however failed due to a blemish.

5

Bug, 2017 Flasche paint on cardboard 100 × 120mm

Chosen here as a contrast to the quality finish of Offset. Where some works benefit from precision, patience and quality materials others succeed by being made quickly on whatever materials are lying around. This cut up piece of cardboard falls in the later category and it’s sitting on my wall at home, horizontally, as you read this.

Five things this Friday – 16 February

Blasts from the past – five works, one every five years starting from my foundation course in 1989/90 up to 2010.

1 1989/90

A still life painting exercise from my Foundation course. Oil on hardboard. The carved figure is one my Dad made.The other objects are some sort of nut, a plastic toy space gun and piece of grapefruit peel.

2 1994/95

A drawing made a year or two after my finishing my Honours Degree. I was making small plaster objects of geometric house like forms. I used cardboard to make the initial mould and then latex to make a reusable one.

3 1999/2000

acrylic ink and paint on paper

Not too sure when this was made but it’s around this time. I was a living in Devon and working from home. A drawing of sorts. I think it was a one of those pieces of paper where I was cleaning my brush or using up excess paint, a by-product of sorts, but I like it.

4 2004/05

Electric sugar acrylic on mdf approx 1200 × 900mm

Made while house-sitting for friends in London. Fortunately for me, one of the bedrooms was in the process of being decorated so I had a free studio for a month. It’s a decent size woek, and I was still very much into gestural mark making. The title comes from a Tom Waits lyric, “…and over in The burnt yellow tent By the frozen tractor, the Music was like electric sugar”.

5 2009/10

Fissure acrylic on canvas 200 × 250mm

A work from my “One for you, one for me” project, where I asked people on my mailing list to cover my costs to make two works. In return they’d get one of the works and I’d keep the other. I exhibited all the paintings in my studio at Toi Pōneke and randomly selected the works for the supporters of the project.


In looking at these images I’m struck by how different a story would be told if I had chosen five different images. Quite how representative they are of my practice as a whole is really up for question. In fact it’s safe to say they offer momentary snapshots and these are the ones that caught my eye today. Another day and it could be five different images and a totally new story.

And on a different note, it’s quite something to realise I’ve been making art for almost thirty years…