The following notes are paraphrased in note form for my own use from Robin Ironsides’s critical study of painting in Britain since 1939.
Sutherland is a painter of landscape but his mountains burning at sundown are the theatre of human passions and his woods are the womb of human impulses.
Blacks,browns and reds, sounded a severe almost a chiding note.
The entrances to woods are the threshold of secrets.
If the painter explores the hollows it is to discover the death-throes of of an oak or to surprise a conspiracy among the rocks.
A quality of painting that is disturbing and suggestive – that gyrates in the imagination.
Sutherland had an emotional vision of the human predicament.
Bursting, moonlit growths of nature.
This kind of art seeks to “associate the beauty at which it aims with the less accessible channels of individual existence”.
Palmer’s pictures implicitly summon mystical communication with nature and the everlasting upheavals of the seasons.
These notes were taken sitting in the gardens at Blenheim Palace by Chantal Powell. Surrounded by spectacularly orchestrated nature of Capability Brown these notes take on real significance. In discussion with a friend they crystallise into a real sense of understanding.
Dialogue is as sunlight to my leaves.
Moments in the sun emphasised by a pause in the cools spring wind. Majesty and fakery. Natural phenomena on an artificial stage. Stone torsos, grass green water and warnings. Many many warnings.
A small overly patterned bedroom. Overtly floral and twee. The view across two single beds and across to the window. A gothic storm complete with witch’s tree. The lamp is lit. The tea set is used. Pink and yellow light flood in and cast maroon and green shadows.
On each bed a figure. Two men and between the beds a chess board, a game half played. On the nearest bed at the bottom of the picture the figure turns toward the viewer and away from the other man. He wears only underwear and a expression of pained shame and secrecy. His hand is thrust into his underwear as he hides from view in an foetal position. There is a hint of the feminine about his position and his lips are flushed.
The other figure by contrast lies back and looks to be sleeping one arm above his head and the other hand falls on the chess board. Destroying the game. He to is only partially dressed and is languid and at ease like a greek hero in contrast to the squirming figure that meets our gaze.
Blue skies in the mornings but hollow and empty. I saw an owl flash in the glare of my headlights. A split second and blur of feather and light. Showers and evening rainbows feel just right.
Really? As it is ? I was surprised at first. It’s not unheard of for me to overpaint. I know the dangers and the how I fall into the trap. But this, this seemed to floor me.
There was a bigger realisation this time. A penny dropped.
The bravery doesn’t come from the choice of subject it comes from the exposure of self. This I knew. The exposure of self, of difference happens for me very early in the painting process. In drawing.
The more I paint the more I lose that self and move toward a generic moderate middle.
The work I admire always has the quality of brave difference and sense of authentic self. Very idiosyncratic and ends up saying something more universal.
The bit that sticks in my throat. To acknowledge that the work is done as it is, is to acknowledge that I can do this and further more it is natural.
Ground covered with second hand snow, ashtray grey skies. It is light when I leave work now.