A painted illustration inspired by part one of T.S. Eliot’s poem Ash Wednesday (1930). The poem concerns Eliot’s struggle with converting to Anglicanism.
Eliot’s words easily conjure vivid imagery in the mind of the reader; akin to being a youngster reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and being enthralled by Fog on the Barrow-downs.
When this painting was still confined by sketches in pen, it seemed to be an inspired choice using readily available source material. The poem is in six parts. So six paintings, each referring to its constituent part, felt like a great idea. Knowing Ash Wednesday (February 18th 2015) was five to six weeks away gave a degree of urgency to the work.
For the most part this painting has been thoroughly enjoyable to compose (I’ve retained images documenting the painting’s progression), especially during some of the most glorious winter skies over Norfolk. This is something I’ve never really explored before; a direct observation of something that, may, directly inform the work. Some of my other work is born of observation, however those observations will have been constructed over a period of time and consequently are indirect; they are musings.
During the process of painting, I visited the REALITY exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
Curated by artist Chris Stevens, REALITY explores contemporary British painting featuring works by Graham Crowley, Ken Currie, David Hockney, Paula Rego, Jenny Saville, and Caroline Walker, amongst others.
The exhibition helped peel away a layer of ego.
Graham Crowley, a former Professor of Painting at The Royal College of Art (1998 – 2006), gave a talk to the Norwich Twenty Group of artists. This talk helped peel away another layer of ego.
These two layers revealed the underlying importance of flesh and substance; illustration or painting.
If it is painting one wish to explore, then painting must be considered as the primary source. If it is a painting using secondary source material as primary, then an illustration is the likely outcome.