Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

June 5, 2022


Filed under: Dorset,Painting,Perspective,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Rob Adams @ 10:10 pm

Emotion. We all want it in our work it would seem. Feeling, intuition, instinct all these are toted as desirable in an artist and their work. Logic, learning, systematic thought and pragmatism are less desirable it would seem. I am puzzled by how such a strange inversion of reality has taken hold. Animals have instinct, feeling and react intuitively, but they don’t make art. It is therefore almost certain that the scorned attributes of logic, systematic thought and learning are to blame for our creative bent. I just don’t see how any other conclusion can be reached. We might I suppose choose to beleive in mysterious “energies”, souls talking or the infinite speaking to us, but really that is the same as believing in fairies.

Michelangelo’s works, the cathedrals and even Stonehenge are the result of rational thought not instinct. I am not saying that feelings and intuitions are not valuable, far from it, but these understandings are often the result of a long process of internalised learning. Magical thinking is so deeply embeded in us that it is not going to go away. When a misfortune hits any of us we all curse some cruel higher power that has singled us out for an injustice. We say thank God, thank Heavens and believe our pets understand our every word. However playing music has taught me that the appearance of what appears to be moments of emotionally inspired expression are actually achieved by systematic hard work and practice. The muses do not whisper in our ears to inspire, we earn it by striving to understand and hard work.

It was said by Arthur C Clarke that: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” and so it seems when an individual who had never learnt to paint and draw sees a masterpiece. Since they cannot concieve of creating such a thing themselves, they attribute its creation to some special or mystical inspiring force. This is not a problem provided that the artists themselves don’t believe in the myth. The present demise of many of the Arts today is unfortunately that many do believe just that. It is if a conjurer on stage actually believed that their slights of hand were true magic.

So I say to my fellow artists, there are no mystical inspirations, no magic tricks to gain mastery. There is no wellspring of creativity, no guidance from above. It is just hard work and practice. If you are one of those who presents some empty nonsense as a deeply meaningfull artwork then you are no better than a huckster, no matter how much some sucker pays for it at auction.

Now I have that off my chest may I con you with a few paintings?

A small 6in square painting of Wareham. Done from a phone snap through a windscreen but it had very interesting light and a subtle colour harmony. When I paint from snaps like this I set my timer so that I don’t go on too long. This was 30min’s worth.

Another from a photo. I was looking through old images of Bridport market looking for square compositions and this took my eye. 7in sq Oils.

Not sure about this one. As so often happens there are bits I like and bits that I am uncertain about. Putting a prominent figure into a landscape is always asking for trouble. I decided the figure had to be developed enough that you would try to gauge their mood and the landscape needed to be subservient. Not altogether sure I succeeded though. 10in Sq Oils.

Sorry I am hooked on squares at present. This the church near Tarrant Crawford, it still has medieval wall paintings just about surviving on its walls. In this one the figure works much better. I allowed the light to embed the figure in the space. 7.5in sq Oils.

This is Hambledon Hill from Hammoon. In the 45 min it took to paint I was hailed on, rained on and snowed on… hard to focus on making a painting. 6in Sq. Oils.

Tired of square ones yet… a few more still to come, they will call this my square period. This is Kington Magna. I must have a go at this view on the spot. Quite hard to get a position to paint from that explains the charm of the place. 7.5in sq. Oils.

Another small 6in sq of Hanford School. I painted this hand held in under 30 min. I must get back at this time of day and do a larger one as it often looks very beautiful. Oils

Another hand held job. No way to set up a tripod easel on the road bridge over the Stour at Blandford. This another view I keep on coming back to, such a pity the traffic makes it almost impossible to do plein air. When I was doing this some of the lorry wing mirrors were inches from the back of my head! 6in Sq Oils.

Sea fret at Swanage. Less than 30 min this one as the fret dissolved into a bright sunny dat as I painted. Great fun to try and catch such transitory effects. 8in sq Oils.

I hadn’t done a complex urban scene for a while. It was very hard work and took well over an hour but the light stayed with me which was good. 10in sq. Oils.

Don’t know why I painted this one, very unlikely to find a buyer. I was almost back to my car when I was taken by the light and decided I would have a go. The young lady walking briskly down to the car park was a gift I could not turn down.

So that is the end of my square period… next the pentagonal period…


  1. I enjoyed your paintings and your comments..Genesis 1:26 explains most of the semi questions in very few words.. GOD the Creator of all things made man in His own image.. of course we have the desire to create, and the intelligence to seek wisdom to do all things..
    Seek God and you will be amazed at your own wisdom❤️

    Comment by Vanaly palmer — June 6, 2022 @ 3:38 am

  2. How do these people find you?! ? I totally agree with your comments, Rob. So many people say (especially at my first ever Open Studio this weekend) that they could not draw or paint and suggest I must have a special gift. It is meant kindly, of course, but finding what makes a successful painting has to be learned and each painting builds on many hours studying and working alongside experienced practitioners such as your good self. I know I have much still to learn. In the end, I just say ‘it’s practice, practice, practice’.

    Comment by Paula Parish — June 6, 2022 @ 8:52 am

  3. Please don’t write random things about God or quote the Bible in replies on my blog. The Bible is not a reliable source of knowledge as it was cobbled together over the centuries and then edited to reflect different views in different eras. It is very much the word of Man not of any deity. God does exist, but only in the minds of His creator, Man. The verse you quoted is inappropriate in any case and just represents the egoism of mankind. If there are other intelligences in the universe are they in God’s image too and do we as the favourite children have dominion over them?

    Comment by Rob Adams — June 6, 2022 @ 8:53 am

  4. I get the same, “It must be wonderful to have talent.” comments. It is a better explanation for most people than: “I did it wrong many many times over many years and slowly began to get better and even now I still feel there is lots to improve.

    Comment by Rob Adams — June 6, 2022 @ 9:11 am

  5. Yes – I’m an artist, aren’t I lucky? I think the issue is really one of language – I know animals communicate, but humans are somehow born into a language, or the ability to acquire it in all its complexity, in a remarkably short time between the ages of about 2 to 5. After that language is more difficult to learn. In the same way some people take to drawing very naturally at an early age. And I see art, or the arts (which include things like being a bit of a wit or a good raconteur) as aspects or different forms of language. Painting/drawing are non-verbal forms of communication. Your works, Rob Adams, don’t just describe a city street accurately, or riverside, they do so with tremendous feeling. Or something that words can’t describe. And I think that’s the point – if we only had verbal communication it could become very narrow and oppressive – tyrants always want to either suppress or redefine arts to say what they want them to say. So when I am drawing someone’s portrait, I FEEL (i.e. I may be wrong) that it’s a unique sort of conversation – in that I can only see the outside of the sitter, whereas he sees himself from within. Not that that’s any more accurate. He/she is the outer expression of a world I can probably never know, but can still respond to. So it’s a ‘cultural space’, a conversation which may well be largely silent. So I’ll silently shut up now. Except to add that art or the arts are a bit like humour – if other people don’t get it, it hardly helps for the artist/comedian to explain the joke. That doesn’t, of course, mean we shouldn’t say or write anything, but an artwork does have to speak for itself, and the arts put pressure on spoken language to extend their meaning categories.

    Comment by John N. Pearce — June 6, 2022 @ 11:44 am

  6. I agree with much of what you say – there is no substitute for practice and study. This is possibly even more true of music, as you suggest, which is why I am a poor musician, lacking the dedication to practice every day. I would suggest, however, that there is such a thing as aptitude, or lack of it. I suspect almost anyone can be taught how to draw a bit, or bash out a tune, but not everyone has it in them to become a great artist. That requires aptitude plus a level of single-minded determination and dedicated hard work that most of us are unwilling to embrace.

    Talking of dedication, I admire your disregard of your personal comfort in the pursuit of your plain-air practice, but please don’t get yourself killed by painting in the road! I’m sure it’s why photography was invented.

    By the way, how did you get on with the open studio weeks?

    Comment by Martin Harris — June 6, 2022 @ 3:14 pm

  7. Hi Martin, Open weeks was way down in numbers but not as bad as it might have been in sales. It is always fascinating to watch people looking at your work, what they notice and completely miss is educational to say the least!

    Comment by Rob Adams — June 7, 2022 @ 7:47 am

  8. Hi John I very much agree with you about language and painting. I often see contemporary art attempting to communicate ideas that would be far better said in words. For me painting a landscape says something in paint that would be hard and cumbersome to say in words. In an old fashioned phrase “horses for courses!’ Portraits are a good example, we are so nuanced in our appreciation of faces that it would take a novel to put it all into words. A photograph gives too much information about a very brief moment, a painting on the other hand is a sort of compendium of moments that have drawn my attention enough for me to put them down on canvas. Odd you should mention people who don’t get art, it is actually a majority I think (another blow to the artist’s ego!) when people visit me I watch them to see if they notice my paintings, most if you asked them after would say, ‘Paintings? I think there were, I didn’t really notice.’

    Comment by Rob Adams — June 7, 2022 @ 8:01 am

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