I have a lot of pictures in my attic. I counted them and it gave me pause for thought, 1200, that is a lot of paintings. Though I dare say a fair few other painters could out do my total. Many of course would be best left to moulder or be painted over, but it still means there are many more perfectly adequate “Rob Adamses” in the world than anyone will ever want. Early on in this blog I wrote a section on why I paint which is here, in it on re-reading I essentially wrote about why I paint what I do in the manner I do, rather than why I bother in the first place.
The “why I bother” is actually simple and mundane, I enjoy doing it and the challenges it throws up. In my previous existence as an artist for hire I did whatever I was asked as well as I had it in me to do at any one time. As in painting pictures now I enjoyed the challenges and having to stretch what I was capable of in new directions. When it stopped being a challenge I rather lost interest and as my career had been relatively successful I was in the position of being able to stop and change direction with little risk. It was also one of those things that we nebulously script into our futures: I will give up work and just paint for me… or garden, or whatever. It is a sort of rosy will o’ the wisp destination that is reassuring when the present becomes a little tedious, like looking forward to a cold beer at the end of the day.
As with all ambitions the reality is a little different, not disappointing just different. Doing the work is satisfying, I am eager to start the next days painting and am often painting by 7.30 in the morning. Some things have been unexpectedly rewarding, such as the many fascinating people I have met through a shared interest. Also the trying to master the many difficulties of distilling and then painting the observable world for a frame rather than a page. This blog has been an unexpected pleasure, I never thought to write so much, I initially intended it just to be paintings with brief descriptions about technical matters. Instead I have found myself on an erratic voyage over theoretical, philosophical and motivational waters.
So, the taking stock bit. It is six years since I set out on my new course. In that time I have reshaped my life almost completely, moved a hundred miles west into the country and become a painter of pictures of the world around me. I no longer sit long hours at the computer or paint pictures of theme park developments. I am mostly free to shape each new day as it comes. I no longer have a city street outside my door, but a garden and trees.
I am not one to dwell on dissatisfactions, despite an inherent restlessness I am blessed with a mostly sunny disposition only briefly disrupted by the occasional melodramatic storm. I am a little concerned that I spend my days doing an activity which produces a product that few want or need. There is a part of me that irritatingly points out that I would better serve the community by doing something that improves the lot of my fellow man a little more directly. Still giving others the occasional dose of visual stimulation is not entirely worthless, just not as important as many in the art world would like to believe.
So stock taking is more difficult than I thought, it is hard to assign either positive or negative values. I cannot produce a neat chart with pros on one side and cons on the other. The part of taking stock that entails possibly adjusting your course, is problematic too. I can only form very prosaic ambitions, such as doing more printmaking and improving my oil painting. It is one of the results of ageing that your perspective changes, success is not a lure, the vague desire to become “known” dissipates. Although the quality of not understanding the world becomes more nuanced with age, the actual degree of understanding steadily decreases as old poorly founded certainties get progressively eroded.
So that is the end of the audit, my plan is to add more shelves to my attic and carry on painting regardless!
Not many pictures done and I seem to be more prone to re-working than I have been previously, which means pictures evolve. This makes it a little tricky for the blog as I don’t quite know when a picture is finished. I will I think post updates as I go along as this might be of interest to other painters, you will also be able to annoy me by telling me the first version was better!
I had this one sitting on a ledge in the living room for a week or so. It started life as an unfinished plein air done at dawn, but this reworking though it retained the basic tonal structure had a quite different feel. Eventually I felt it was more of a nocturne than a dawn and had the idea of adding a moon.
Here it is, it makes I feel a better nocturne than a dawn! It is amazing how so little paint can alter the whole emotion of a picture. The other change that was reassuring was that before when the picture was in my living room nobody noticed it, but when put back with its silvery addition it drew eyes and comment. 10in by 19in oils.
I wanted to do a different take on Fontmell Down. On a painting visit we were chased away by this very rambunctious herd of bullocks. There was no chance of carrying on with the plein air painting so as they approached in fits and starts I took tons of photos. I am for now pleased with the result it has a quieter mood than I intended but I think that is probably a good thing. 10in by 19in oils.
This was a sketch to work out a tone structure for a bigger picture, now I’m not so sure and this might be the finished one. It is based on a pen drawing augmented by some very over exposed iPhone snaps. It is the road in to Dorchester. 10in by 10in oils. I’ll put the pen drawing below.
I think I will still do a bigger painting but I might need to make another expedition. Fortunately the phone snap has time and date info so I should be able to return at the optimum moment!
This is Springhead an old mill up the hill from Fontmell in Dorset. I loved the mood when we were there after a rained off evening picnic. The photos were, as is so often the case, not at all like how I remembered it so this an attempt to recapture the memory. It looks like another one that might benefit from a moon being added, though I am holding off for now! It is one of those pictures that makes a big leap on being put into a frame, I find it hard to find a reason why that should be so but it does show that testing a picture in a frame as you work on it is a good policy. One especial benefit is it makes it easier to judge when a picture is finished. 10in by 14in oils.
These are the old coast guard cottages at White Nothe near Lulworth. Nothing particularly wrong just didn’t have the focus I was looking for, almost scrubbed it off but have attacked it again since.
Here it is after surgery, I wanted to focus it in more. Still not quite the painting I had in mind when starting but will leave it a while before any more messing. It started off as a 12in by 20in but got lopped down to 12in by 16in. Oils