Michael's Gallery

I was scheduled to take over the Watercolour Workshop class at New Malden Centre in mid-September this year. Before then I received emails from long-term members of the class welcoming me and inviting me to have a look at the work they did on their weekly or fortnightly painting trips out and about around the Surrey area and beyond. In the classes I've taught over the past seven years, I've managed to steer many students into the area of water based media, which can include acrylic. The reason for this is that it widens the possibilities for their work. But also by getting people to use acrylics the 'quickly done' and 'picturesque' aspect of watercolour can be arrested. The more ponderous nature of acrylic means people have to think more and spend more time building up a body of work. Getting things wrong and working to get things right. This can be done in watercolour as well of course, but in much of my experience, too many students in too many watercolour classes and watercolour art clubs can be preoccupied with what I can only describe as fancy techniques used to create 'effects'. For some reason, watercolour has attained a reputation among many as 'spontaneous', as though this is the one and only criterion for being creative. [Try telling that to Cotman, Cezanne or Piero Della Francesca.] But this often results in the quickly looked at and the quickly done.  So it was quite refreshing to see the Artful Dodgers members' work online, plus photographs of them at work. The work revealed an honesty twinned with visual surprises which are only achieved through spending time working at observational drawing and painting.

 

My own work depends on firstly drawing or painting particular areas or things that I'm interested in, or find myself in. Then over time I can begin to build compositions relating to my observations and developing ideas. Sometimes a narrative or an incident is involved, sometimes it can be just putting things together within the rectangle that hold my interest. My main aim I think is in dividing the rectangle up in interesting ways. Shape, pattern and tone are all important aspects as they were for some of my favourite painters, which are mainly Italian and sometimes Flemish and German primitives of the 15th century. Along with the many painters they influenced in Britain, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Mexico of the first half of the 20th century.

 

One of my favourite quotes about the making of art is by William Johnstone in his book, 'Creative Art in England'. He says, 'The Italian Primitives painted, not to copy or imitate nature, but purely to exploit the plastic qualities of pigment in the service of the church or patron'. Or in the service of the wall, could be added to this.

Waiting for Act Two
Waiting for Act Two

Acrylic, 37.5H x 39.5W cms Price £450

Waiting for the Bride
Waiting for the Bride

Acrylic, 44Hx61W cms, Price £500

Waiting for Act Two
Waiting for Act Two

Acrylic, 37.5H x 39.5W cms Price £450

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