Saturday, 31 January 2009

A Very Strange Thing Happened!

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A strange thing happened yesterday. It was quite surprising. For many years now I have been painting on large canvases equal to 4, 5, 6 times the area of A4. At this scale the whole of the body is used in the expressive work, painting broad strokes across what at times can seem a very big field of white canvas. I have enjoyed doing this very much and would never want to lose this experience. But, since Christmas I have been using a painting area of about 2 credit cards in size. To my surprise, yesterday I found that I could still paint expressively at this near miniature scale. In fact to me they are now even more expressive because of the scale of the texture and feel of the oils. Very soon I forgot I was painting on my lap instead of in front of an easel painting with a few hairs instead of the forest of fibres I am used to.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Last weekend we were able to go to our first Plygain. Earlier in the day Sian & I had been attending a wonderful New Year Welsh Course.
The nightime was very special because it was so frosty and clear, with the moon shining exceptionally bright. The fields, the flocks, the trees could all be seen. We were very thankful for this as we were trying to track down this ancient service in a chapel hidden away in the countryside outside LLANFAIR CAERINION some nine miles from Y Drenewydd. It was like entering a new world, a new culture. Just a few miles from Newtown, was an ancient Welsh speaking village celebrating in an old way.

[I found this text on the web - but can't find where. But it says exactly what I wanted to say]

PLYGAIN (sounds like Plug-eye-n)
Plygain in rural North and Mid Wales dates back to the Catholic period, when early morning Plygain services were held on Christmas day. They are now mostly held in the early evening, throughout December and January. This unique form of unaccompanied carol-singing, characterized by close harmony and originally sung by small groups of men, is still very much a living tradition, and has indeed seen somewhat of a revival amongst the younger generation. New singers and parties have emerged, and new services have been established in various parts of the country, where the older carols can be heard alongside new original carols composed in the traditional mode, each one, in the words of Roy Saer, “ vividly communicating the drama and wonder, the joy and certainty which are the essence of these Christmas songs”. Plygain carol singing are held annually around Montgomeryshire in places such as Mallwyd, Llanerfyl, Llanfihangel-yng-ngwynfa and Cemmaes (the old Llanymawddwy Plygain which has moved due to renovation of church).

Saturday, 3 January 2009

For Christmas 2008 I chose for myself a book called 'Big Art, Small Canvas' - Washor. The writer had been used to painting quite large paintings until she became unable to move her arm comfortably from the upper rotary joint. Joyce Washor now paints beautiful images no more than 3"x 4" in size. Her canvas is so small she mounts it on cardboard to give her something to hold on to. Her aim is to get all the power and sensitivity of her large format paintings into the small space.

I shall enjoy my new challenge as I try this year to paint both large and small in acrylic & oils, using brushes bristling with a forest of hairs to those with just a hair or two (very much like myself).
My first small painting is of the view from above Y Drenewydd looking toward Carno and beyond

Friday, 2 January 2009

DAVID TRESS - artist

I recently came across the work of the artist, David Tress in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in Machynlledd. At first glance, close up, the paintings seem to be a scratched, torn collection of paper, ink and a lot of frantic effort giving the work a very physical look. From this very heavily manipulated work face comes a most amazing delicacy, for, standing back, just a few feet a most wonderful understanding of the subject is revealed, both in nature and in essence, in feeling and in form. Much of the work I have seen is made up of over layered torn sheets of watercolour paper, painted rapidly, then scored heavily with maybe a screwdriver, a knife or some other tool. The process seems to have been repeated many times for in places the work is very thick.

The body of work on his website is just shear magic. I cannot believe that anyone would be untouched by such a body of work.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


This is not my photograph - these ideal photography conditions are quite special. But, from my window on this first day of the new year 2009 I can see oak & beech trees covered in hoar frost following a very cold night frost -7 degrees Fahrenheit. The beauty of frost is not so obvious in the city as in the countryside where the effects of fog, wind, low cloud is more pronounced. I may venture out with a camera later and try to see what I can capture, but without the clear blue sky during these short daylight hours my efforts may be in vain. So enjoy this one instead or go onto GOOGLE image and type in hoar frost.

This kind of beauty is created by stillness ... now there's a thought.


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