…range from the “simple that almost answer themselves” to the “don’t ask me that because you’ll die of starvation before I get half way through”. Another painter has noticed that I’m doing smaller work and they’ve wondered why – considering that “small paintings [are] actually more difficult/problematic technically”. Simplistically, that is the reason I’m doing smaller work! Working on a large scale has its own peculiar problems, not least of which is the ludicrously obvious problem of working out how you’re going to fill the space. The key to this, in my opinion at any rate, is to specifically avoid ‘filler’.
Everything that is in any painting ‘needs’ to be there but with the luxury of a large canvas you get the opportunity to reduce – most viewers of a large painting stand back so that they can fit it into their field of vision in one comfortable viewing (if you’re in a gallery trying to appreciate a twelve foot wide painting and your view is interrupted by some goon virtually rubbing their nose on the surface of the canvas then that’s probably another painter studying technique). With a large painting you have the luxury of flinging the paint about, perhaps benefiting from the occasional ‘happy accident’. What I’m attempting, by working on a smaller scale, is to avoid this ‘happy accident’ situation. I’m trying to maintain absolute control over my work; that’s why I’m working on a smaller scale.
As to the other question of late “What exactly is the purpose of art?” I suppose it’s my fault for my last blog entry – but in my opinion art is about communication. And communication, to be successful, either requires a singular clarity of the language used (which is always going to be problematic with visual art), or a singular clarity of the end message. It doesn’t matter whether the message is social, spiritual, philosophical or aesthetic – but for the message to be given any weight it has to be well or, at the least, honestly informed. I have read on philosophy and theology but I would never consider myself informed sufficiently to proselytise through my painting. I do however, know my medium, and I also read widely on current affairs and political history; consequently most of my painting tend simultaneously to these directions. That is the purpose of art for me.
What annoys me with the British art world today, is the current glut of twenty-something cod-philosopher art graduates producing work that they think is in the grand Romantic tradition (even though, sadly, most of them wouldn’t know what that tradition was).
Oh – I haven’t been doing much painting of late as my time has been taken up fully with trade union duties. The hospital I work at has announced a potential redundancy total of 330.
“the garden of earthly delights” 2007