Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

March 20, 2022

The Pandemic Drags on.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rob Adams @ 7:04 pm

As a person of advanced years the pandemic was particularly irritating. I don’t have all that much life left and wasting three years hiding under the rug with a mask on was not on my agenda. Still mustn’t grumble, here I am whining about it so it could be worse. So summer was here and I was time for Dorset Arts Weeks, the last one had been cancelled due to art being the risk of a super spreader event so this was a sort of a bonus one for still being alive. I was a little nervous of having probably virus ridden strangers in my home but with alcohol loaded hand washing goop and other germ warfare gear I should be survive. Would anyone come and buy stuff? We had all been avoiding each other for so long we had forgotten how to socialise let alone randomly visit artist’s studios of dubious hygienic quality.

We were going out painting again. I hadn’t seen the sea for well almost a year. Chesil bank where it hits Portland a tiny little painting and I remember no concentrating properly as i was just enjoying the feeling of being out and about. 10in by 5in Oils.

A few days later at Osmington Mills. I just had to paint the surreal sight of all the cruise liners parked in Weymouth Bay. Some bits had to be invented as the pub had put up a vast marquee that filled the foreground. 36in by 12in. Oils.

Wareham I was still nervous of members of the public with their masks jauntily positioned well beneath their noses. Others walked the streets with fear in their eyes heavily masked and taking their shopping home to disinfect it with a flame thrower. I had got a bit rusty at this sort of scene and had a brief moment of panic. Town scenes are so complex you have to leave out a lot of clutter, the trick is to do undefined stuff that might be clutter if the artist had been better at painting. 14in by 10in. Oils.

More sea. Demonstrations were coming back too, this was for a group who were particularly elderly more than half were fast asleep by the time I had got this done. I did my best with jokes and chat, but obviously the experience was akin to those dreaded slide based lectures about art history. I have only given demos since moving to Dorset, I quite enjoy the process, there is always the possibility that you will do an epic fail in front of an audience which add a frisson of fear. 19in by 12in Oils.

More Wareham, the best views of the main street are from your car. It had a great variety of buildings and the Vikings deliberately laid it out at an angle where the street should be well lit for painters in the morning. 16in by 10in Oils.

Old Harry from Studland. Last one before the open studios. To my surprise lots of people turned up to do art appreciation, the weather was lovely, people actually bought stuff and I didn’t get infected despite some dubiously sneezing children. 12in by 16in Oils.

No rest for the pensionable… I had just started to receive the state pension. A bit surreal, the government takes money away from people who probably need it to give to a fairly well off artist in Dorset who doesn’t. Autumn is here and so is the threat of the Art Trail, another bijou open studio event to happen next year just in the village. More framing I never seem to have enough frames, a good sign I suppose as it means people are actually buying paintings. Bulbarrow in the background. 14in by 10in Oils.

The Stour at Hammoon, the river is getting full so floods are in the offing. I am determined to paint them this year. 14in by 10in Oils.

Floods! I had to take off my boots and wade through knee deep water to get in position to paint this. The artist suffering always improves a picture I think. 12in by 8in Oils.

More floods, Hanford this time. Boots off again and standing up to my shins in very cold water. I kept an eye out for otters they can be dangerous this time of year. 10in by 8in.

That is 2021 almost dealt with. One more and we will be back to real time.

March 15, 2022

Weird is the New Normal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rob Adams @ 3:35 pm

You can only be scared for so long. However long you look at someone you can never tell if they are a seething cauldron of viral death or just looking a bit peaky due to alcohol consumption. This lurgy is invisible though the invisible sink plunger of death just waiting to consign you to a ventilator. We could now go for walks with a friend provided you kept your distance.

The rules got ever more nuanced, you could meet with six other people from 2 households in a garden provided there were no rose beds, if there were rose beds it was only 5 unless two of them were second cousins or wore red wigs. Every jacket pocket or shopping bag seemed to have masks of dubious age and hygiene in them. There was no money anymore you just waved your card gingerly over the reader knowing that if it ever beeped twice it would have taken all your pension and sent it to Russia.

All this to deal with and painting too, it was enough to send a poor old chap barmy. When I first went to art college to learn how to socialise my Mother bought me a wood carving set at an auction. It had been owned by a man who made models for the science museum. He didn’t need it anymore due to being dead so it was in a sale. I have carried this huge heavy box around with me since I was 19 years old. It has seen bedsits, digs, squats, empty derelict hotels, empty derelict mansions, shared houses, flats, maisonettes and country cottages, but it has never really seen use. This seemed the ideal moment to rectify that.

Rather than planning it I just started, after all how hard could it be? I had done carving before in polystyrene using a chainsaw, I had a 3rd class degree in sculpture, so what could go wrong? The bit of wood was about a thousand years old and like iron. It was impossible to hold it still and bash the chisel with a mallet. I bought a proper carving vice, but even that wasn’t strong enough for the mighty blows needed to remove even a splinter. I bought an attachment for my angle grinder that was considerably more of a risk to my well being than any virus, but at least slowly removed material. Three whole weeks later I was done. I could have painted 20 pictures in the same time.

One odd effect the pandemic had on men was Hairiness. Hair has been a problem for me all through my life. First not enough, no beard until I was 30, I made up for this by growing the bit on my head long enough to tuck into the back of my trousers, now there is too much and everywhere. My tonsorial strategy in later life was a cycle of let it grow for 3 months and then cut it all very short. The pandemic extended this to 5 months so I thought I would immortalise the result. Pen, Ink, White and Patience.

At 4ft across this is bigger than I usually paint. People in Dorset live in cottages and old thatched houses that have small walls. They also are mostly in their 80’s and have already filled what walls they have available for art with horse brasses and photos of their many children and grandchildren which demonstrate to visitors their past success and fertility. I used to sell big pictures in London where the walls are bigger and the people with money younger, but here is much harder. Another reason is that my attic is not in any way related to the Tardis and I would run out of space. The view of course of Blandford, I left the camels as well as the swaying palm trees and the limpid pools surrounded by fountains. 48in by 20in.

Not getting out was getting to me… you can tell by the self portraits. Time to get the hell out and paint some landscapes, at least they don’t look back at you. 8in sq.

Not far from my house there are sheep grazing beside the Stour. I considered wearing a mask as you never know, hamsters can get it apparently so why not sheep? The sheep look smugly content because they have never heard of Donald Trump, lucky blighters. Still it keeps the journalists happy they have had a miserable time covering the pandemic as viruses don’t do photo calls or interviews, also there was so much science which is hard to understand and even harder to write about. Hard to sell sheep paintings, not sure why, I have sold nearly every painting of cattle I have ever done. 16in by 8in.

More sheep. I did sell this one, I think they might not have spotted the sheep, or maybe thought they were cows. 14in by 7in.

High summer and people are doing distanced events. This one was probably illegal, but a bit of music cheered everybody up. I painted the event after the event from a phone snap. With a phone you are never without your camera. This creates vast archives of unremarkable moments for people to put up on social media. As a painter I end up with folders marked ‘possible’ to indicate there might be a painting there. When I look at them a month later I can’t work out why I thought that was the case. This was done the same day though so it was all fresh in my head. 12in by 10in.

More summer fun, this was a socially distanced tea party organised by my lovely neighbours. We sat in front of our houses either side of the road, drank tea, ate cake and conversed. I recorded the event for posterity. Due to the regulations at the time I framed them separately. Quite wide but not as tall.

A dead chaffinch that had flown into a window. I had almost finished this and decided to take a break for a coffee. When I came back I found a cat had snuck in and swiped the birdie. 8in by 7in.

Hold on to your hats, there is excitement and thrills in the next episode as we come to terms with new variants, where I open my doors for Arts Weeks letting virus ridden members of the general public traipse through my house.

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