It is 0920 on Thursday morning and I am whizzing down the M621 on my way to Redbrick and thinking about the work I'm about to do and hoping today that I will make some headway with reality. You see I have a problem with reality. No, really. I have this compulsion to depict the reality of the subject in an obsessively literal way and to pursue it until the living bejeezers is squeezed out of the image. Tom reminds us that when we are separated from the subject, be it model, landscape, still life or whatever, the only reality that remains is the image we have created. I accept this truth wholeheartedly, but still confess to the need to capture much of the reality, the essence of the subject, within the image. I don't know why its important to me, but it is. It is an essential part of any progress I might make, otherwise it just feels like a fudge if I side-step this issue. To capture reality, one must first recognise it; see the essential components and disregard the frippery. This is my challenge. Here is a true example from last Thursday.I turn off onto the A62, past the hellhole that is IKEA and into eastern Batley. Here is reality. It is depressed Britain: the closed down shops, the forest of 'For Sale' and 'To Let' signs, the strings of grubby cafes and takeaways, the teenage mothers pushing their buggies and the old man curled in a shuttered doorway ('Enterprise Opportunity!' the sign above him says), his sleeping hand like a talon around his can of Special Brew. A stark and uncomfortable reality.Yet traffic lights allow a more considered look. The bent, silver-haired road sweeper shares an apparently hilarious joke with a passing van driver, the man in the dingy takeaway is polishing the ancient formica top to an inch of its life while mouthing the words to a song I cannot hear and the chubby infant gurgles up at his child mother to be rewarded by a broad smile of unadulterated love. There is happiness here. Same sights, two different perceptions of reality. I just had to look a bit harder.For me there's a need to look a lot harder and more critically at subjects to recognise the essential elements before making any marks and I may have found some serendipitous clues to help. I recycle boards and canvasses after life drawing, keeping very few images. The acrylics I paint over, the oils I scrub off with turps. An attempt to obliterate a poor caricature of Roger with an unintentionally thin acrylic wash, like a thick opaque glaze I suppose, produced a very different image, stronger and in many senses better than the original by obliterating weak detail and retaining the stronger. In an opposite direction scrubbing out last week-end's portrait of Lin Lee produced a somewhat minimalist, almost pop art image of her features framed by dark hair that refused to be scrubbed away. Not a finished work by any means, but one that had more of the "reality" of the subject than the one with all the paint on!Sue D-Y is taking the image behind the image idea further by painting on polythene sheet with oil. Brave? You bet. Last Thursday, as you can see, she used a previous study as backing behind the polythene, building up a series of image layers. Watch this space, its going to be interesting. I'm not going to say more, hoping that Sue will write a blog soon and let us have her thoughts.As for the other images from Thursday, no critiques from me. In fact, I liked them all for different reasons, from Tom's snarling androgynous Medusa to Barry's balanced, delightful piece and Russell obviously in peak form ready for the fray. But there again those are just my perceptions.....PERCEPTION: The ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses. Oxford Dictionariesby Dick Fowler
Paintings and drawings by Barry, Fiona, Hadyn, Russell, Sandra, Steven, Sue D-Y, Tom, Tony and featured artist Dick.