Tuesday, 12 August 2014

'New England (Green)'

'New England (Green)'      55x45cms      oil on wood
 
 Had a chance to see this recently at a friend's house - it's a favourite but never really got a showing before it was snapped up. There is a red and a blue version too but this is by far the strongest. Seeing it again reminded me of Spectragel, which I used in the ocean- must get some more.



Monday, 28 July 2014

'A m e r i c a s c a p e s - 'California Zephyr' 210x70cms


The second of the Amtrak paintings.Of all the train journeys, this was the most varied and spectacular and my favourite- a 2 day journey from Chicago across the Rockies to San Francisco. Originally a panorama, the painting was transformed by switching of the format and the introduction up of the cactus. Lake Michgan, at the top, is massively scaled-up, it's like an ocean, which is how it seems when you're in Chicago. There are delicious plays between the right-side of the cactus and the meandering trainline and between the cactus and the skyscraper shape formed by the shapes of the states on the right side of the canvas.......

The roots of the 'City of Glass' series are in this painting

 
'Maine', 'Crescent' & 'California Zephyr' at the Michael West Gallery, Quay Arts
 
 
 

Friday, 25 July 2014

A m e r i c a s c a p e s: 'Lake Shore Ltd (& Jon's Barn)'


 
 
Trawling through my archive, I came across this painting, bringing back memories of my journey to the USA in 1997, after I was awarded a Boise Travel Scholarship from the Slade School of Art. I was staggered by the invention and vitality in this piece- maybe it's time to tell the tale....
 
During my stay in the US I made a series of train journeys around the country, with extended stays in Chicago, San Diego, New Orleans, New England and New York City, followed by 2 month's intense painting in a barn in upstate New York belonging to sculptor Jon Isherwood, a great friend from Canterbury College of Art.  I completed 22 paintings in the barn including three very large canvases, 'Chesapeake Bay', 'California' and 'Nantucket'.  The  'A m e r i c a s c a p e s'  series continued on my return to the UK including this painting which shows the first leg of the journey from New York to Chicago.
 
It was painted on a Formica kitchen cupboard panel retrieved from a skip - I wanted to replicate a similar surface to the bright-white Formica covered boards that I used for the smaller paintings in the barn. An impossible skiddy surface with the constant tension of whether the paint will fall off.  It's kind of dazzling how this paint messes with time, reality and space. A not very well-disguised homage to Matisse's 'The Red Studio' that I saw in New York - propped up against the barn is one of my paintings- a painting within a painting. But what makes this painting exciting is that the subject of my painting within the painting, Chesapeake Bay, is also in the painting- you can see the shape on the Atlantic coast below New York. Love the relationship between map and image - how the line of the flat shape of New York state continues into the line that defines the 3-dimensionality of the barn. Also the relationship between the paint-filled hole in the Formica and the dot of Chicago above.
 
Have I ever painted a more confident line than the drawing of the Great Lakes?
 
A couple of artist friends bought this piece, Michelle Avison & Alex le Fevre - I look forward to seeing it again when I'm next  in London.
 
Next post will be about the painting of the second leg of the journey, Chicago to San Francisco on the 'California Zephyr'. Below is 'Lake Shore Ltd' with 'Nantucket', which is also propped up against the barn in the painting!

 
 
Lake Shore Ltd & 'Nantucket' at Quay Arts
 
 
 

Friday, 18 July 2014

'City of Glass 25 - (streets)' & 'City of Glass 26 - (avenues)'

 
A simple premise- a deconstruction of Manhattan, one painting showing all the horizontals/streets, another the verticals/avenues. Information fragmented/subverted, allowing the lines to be themselves. I spent a lot of time considering the shape within the shape, which fixed the scale of the lines and spaces between. I invariably see the female figure in the shape of Manhattan - explicit in this shared composition.   
 
 
'City of Glass 25- (streets...)'  70x50cms



'City of Glass 26 - (avenues...)'  70x50cms

 
An exciting shift: for the first time, the sides of the canvas, where I have marked out and numbered the grid, are integral to the painting, extending the idea of 'sculptural' paintings that have emerged this year in the 'City of Glass'* series.



 
 
 
beginnings

 
'from 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster
 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

New 'City of Glass' Paintings at Modern Artists Gallery

City of Glass 17, 16 & 19

Modern Artists Gallery in Whitchurch, Reading are exhibiting Ashley's latest paintings from the 'City of Glass' series inspired by Paul Auster's novel 'The New York Trilogy.'

City of Glass 10
City of Glass 24 & 21














The paintings are on  on display until 28th August 2014. Opening times vary contact the gallery for details 0118 984  5893. Please note the bridge from Pangbourne to Whitchurch is closed to vehicles but you can park in Pangbourne and it's a lovely 10 minute walk across the river to the gallery.





Recent Canterbury 'Freedom in Painting with the Life-Model' workshop

Ashley really enjoyed working once again with the artists on his workshop at Canterbury Christchurch University. Here he gives an insight into the 2 days.

'I used some of the ideas explored in my latest paintings into the recent 'Freedom in Painting' workshop at Canterbury Christchurch University. Working with Sharon Smithers, our exceptional life- model, the theme of 'The Intruding Line' was introduced. The discipline and challenge was to begin each drawing with a strong, straight central line, cutting the space and forcing the students to find a way to use it, disguise it, ignore it. The theme carried on into painting, where the group were asked to fix 2 canvases together and then deal with the problem of the line of the canvas-divide. As I have found in my own work, this way of working offers flexibility: at the start of Day 2, the students were given the option, if they wished, of switching the canvases round or separating them.  As always an incredible range of intriguing work emerged during the 2 days.  Exhausting and exhilarating!'

Each piece was very individual, here are some images of the work made over the 2 days. Thanks to everyone who came along, we really hope you enjoyed it.

Anne Marie Lepretre's painting
David Carnegie's pain




Jo Dunlop's painting


Penny Watt's painting

Comments from the workshop

Really enjoyed the course, Ashley was very supportive and gave excellent advice on a one to one basis.
Jasmine Hider

Really opens the mind to more possibilites.
David Carnegie

It has given me confidence to re-start painting after a year out.
Yvonne McCann

Monday, 30 June 2014

'City of Glass 24 - (Peter)'

'City of Glass 24 - (Peter)'   50x40cms


During the process, the face of Stillman* became the cartoon face of 'fictional' detective Max Work (below), which became the face of Stillman's broken son Peter.....painting now on the wall in new show at Modern Artists Gallery, Reading


work in progress- as 'Max Work'
 
 
*from 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster
 
 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

'City of Glass 22 - (Cleave)' .......final thoughts....



This is a strange piece...I have been looking again at the paintings in isolation and have concluded that while working as a pair, they both work individually ... they were made that way.  I only put the paintings together when a friend took this photo and then I began to see them as a pair with a 'cleave' within each painting and also between them which I think adds an exciting additional dimension. As a pair the power of the face is diminished, both because of its smaller proportion within the whole but also because of the power of the divide between the two paintings.

The painting(s) have divided opinion and provoked thought, in particular the painting with the face. I had a great discussion with staff and students from Canterbury Christchurch University, exchanging ideas, analysis and possibilities for the piece. Even during our drawing session in Charlestown and in the pub after, the conversation continued so I guess the piece has had an impact which is no bad thing. 

There have been comments about whether the face works at all, whether it belongs, whether it is too strong, too graphic, too out of kilter with the rest of the series. Also how disturbing the face and the stare are. This is intentional: this is the face of Stillman, the man who locked up his 2 yr old son in a dark room for 9 years in a deranged experiment to discover the language of God.
  
So, to conclude, I think I can and shall, show the paintings individually or as a pair. This duality is delicious: after all in the novel, in his thesis* Stillman discusses the dual meaning of 'cleave', to both break apart and put together.

I have long been an admirer of Richard Diebenkorn and Mondrian and the 'City of Glass' series owes a debt to their work (not too much I hope!). Mondrian is hot news at the moment with two current shows. I have just read a  review of the Mondrian and His Studios at Tate Liverpool, where Waldemar Januszczak talks about the connections between Mondrian's abstraction and his membership of the cult of Theosophy, where universal order is explained 'as a balance between horizontal lines, representing the female force, and vertical lines representing the male force, enclosed in a circle'.

Fascinating stuff. There is also a 'Mondrian and Colour' exhibition on at Turner Contemporary in Margate which I'll have to check out when I'm down in Canterbury in a couple of weeks.

Open Studios has now finished and I'm back in the garage, now even smaller with the arrival of the new work. There are another couple of new paintings in the series, including a red study of Peter Stillman (the son), that I can't yet post having dropped my camera.  It's been a great 3 weeks at the Shire Hall Gallery in Bodmin - big thanks to Wendy and the team for letting me and Janie M McDonald take over the space and to all the visitors who came.

* P:43, 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster.