s

News

Winter Hills Dunoon

 

My normal method of beginning a painting is to create as much excitement as I can with liquid paint applied in bold strokes and splashes. Most of the time, this is then refined and painted over as the painting progresses, but I always try to retain some of the original marks as they are usually the most freely painted and full of energy.

However, in this painting I was so pleased and excited with the qualities of the early stages of the work, I determined to leave as much as I could in the finished piece. I anticipated some difficulty in resolving the completed work with a recognisable landscape element, but knew instinctively that the transition between the two areas would be a river bank.

My first thoughts were to integrate the coast at Cowie in Stonehaven, as seen from the harbour area, but then another image began to insinuate itself into my thoughts and I decided to go with that.

Several years ago, I was given the use of a cottage on the Cowal peninsula by a gallery in Glasgow, who were hoping it would inspire me to paint some west coast landscapes. We had a lovely family holiday and I did manage a few paintings from my travels round the local area.

The view in this painting is my memory of the ferry journey across to Dunoon, which we took a couple of times towards the end of the day. It is now quite a few years since I made that journey, and I am not sure why it popped into my head, when I was contemplating this canvas.

However, I have learned over the years to trust that 'wee inner voice' and so 'Winter Hills, Dunoon' was the result.

Francis

What Makes a Painting?

It is always so encouraging when people take the time out to write to me and share with me their enthusiasm for my work. It fills me with great joy when someone can find some inspiration for their own work in my paintings and I am always happy to provide any advice I can to help.

The essays I wrote for 'Work Small, Learn Big' and 'International Artist' are now almost 10 years old but I put a lot of thought into the articles and think they still stand up today. My work has moved on in many respects but essentially my approach to painting remains the same.

A few years ago, for the first time, I gave some painting workshops and this has caused me to deconstruct my working methods in an attempt to pass on to others not only 'how'  I make my work but also my thought process as a painting progresses.

When you are looking to make a painting, the subject matter, in my case, fields, farm buildings etc are only important in that they have stimulated you to want to create. Once you have begun your painting, once the first mark is made, the subject ceases to have any importance, all your attention should now be on the surface of the painting. Only make marks, add colour, draw lines, splatter paint which you think make the painted surface look better. The world of your painting is your world, you are the supreme being and only you get to decide what looks 'right' and only you can decide if something is 'wrong'. You have the power to make grass red and the sky black, or even the other way around but you must also apply your  own internal logic to your creation.

You probably know what you want your painting to look like, don't let your knowledge of the natural world inhibit you as you create your new personal world. It will be difficult at first to make complete paintings which satisfy you but parts of your work will be everything you hoped so treasure these parts and try to develop and grow them until you are making paintings which are expressing your inner vision.

I hope that doesn't sound too 'spiritual' and helps you a little. Happy painting!

 Francis

 

From One Artist to Another...

One of the main reasons for starting a blog was to encourage feedback from anyone who enjoyed my work. Like most artists I know insecurity and doubt are always round the corner and it's a real pick-me-up to be reminded that someone, somewhere is responding to what you're trying to do.

It is even more rewarding when other artists take the time to pass on their compliments and regards. I’m old enough, not to take the web for granted and to still be amazed when an email arrives from New Zealand or California or Malta.

These are all exotic, far-away places to me and it comes as a surprise to realise that my representations of the east-coast, Scottish landscape can resonate in such far-flung corners of the globe.

I recently received a mail that truly astonished me from an artist in Sudan and I’d like to share it with you here:

name : Faisal Tajalsir

enquiry : I just wanted to express my deep admiration with your works..and as an artist I was greatly inspired by them..god bless you..if you are interested in seeing som Sudanese art please visit my blog at fandos.maktoobblog.com.


Sadly, Sudan and Darfur are regularly in the news with the situation in Darfur being called by the United Nations ’the greatest humanitarian disaster of our time’. The constant barrage of ‘bad news stories' from the region can blind you to the fact that ‘normal’ life is still going on. But the environmental, cultural, religious and economic background of someone from Sudan could hardly be more removed from my own experience and it was truly humbling to realise that an artist from this background could find something in my work which spoke directly to him.

I made contact with Faisal and asked him to send me some images of his paintings. This he did and again I was astonished and amazed. I felt a real kinship with his work and felt we were on parallel tracks both seeking, in our different ways, similar solutions to the questions we ask ourselves.

As my work is now easily available in prints and cards quite a few artists use it as a starting point for their own work and I have no problem with that, but I felt that Faisal’s work was more like a sibling than an offspring. You can use this link to see more of his work and I will be contacting him for biographical details to include with the paintings so he can have a ‘mini website’ to promote his work.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it is great to have a ‘good news’ story from a troubled region and I would love to hear what you think of Faisal's work. I will also be happy to pass on any mail or indeed requests for paintings.

Francis

Photo credit: Faisal Tajalsir

Inspiration

I first wrote this nearly 20 years ago as part of my application for the M.A. Course at Grays and reading it again I'm struck by how much it still informs my work today.

In my work, I am trying to evoke in the viewer, a childhood memory of a day or a long forgotten moment, and to reawaken the sense of pleasure and lost innocence this memory brings.

I hope to achieve this response through a combination of visual references, intellectual elements and emotional triggers.

In the paintings, the visual references are the trees, cottages, dykes ( stone walls ) birds, sheep, cows and so on, which I interpret in a naïve simplified style.

The intellectual element is the sense of it being a visual record of an actual place i.e. Cookney or Glen Isla and the emotional triggers are chiefly the expressive, vibrant colour I use, but the texture, shapes and rhythmic 'marks' I make as the painting develops are also important.

In my current work, I am slowly working toward diminishing the intellectual elements, refining and simplifying the visual references and trying to rely more on the emotional triggers, to elicit a response.

My aim is to make work, which will impact on the person seeing it in a sense similar to that felt on listening to a familiar or favourite piece of music.

Francis