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Inspiration Does Exist But It Has To Find You Working

It was Picasso who said that. Whilst he is definitely not a role model for the type of man I would like to be, I think he's completely right about this.

One of the hardest things I find, is to get going on a body of work, but one of the best pieces of advice I ever had was stop thinking about it and start doing it. After all art is called a practice for a reason. Art should be a verb not a noun! It echoes Picasso's thoughts on the subject.

Easier said than done. If I take one of my scribbled ideas or an image in my head and just paint it, it never lives up to what I hoped it might be. If, on the other hand, I sit down and plan everything out, following a structured process from small scale to large, from monochrome and tonal study to mark making to finished piece I kill the energy. What I end up with a lifeless facsimilies of what I started out with. Equally disappointing.

Charcoal studies on the kitchen table. Oddly the picture looks upside down. It's not. It's just the words on the newspaper that make me think that. The charcoal drawings are the right way up.

What I have found is that working through each stage should enrich and inform, but not dictate, the next. So I start with biro doodles or sketches or bits of sketches and then I make monochrome studies, like those above.

I love working in charcoal because you can smudge it and smear it and blur and draw, cover, conceal and leave alone - all with one stick held in your hand. It is so simple, and also primal, it forces you to be economic and allows you to hide when you have not been.

From studies like these emerge new ideas, textures and patterns that I can filter and pursue.

Rather than thinking about my process in terms of idea-image, I now think of it as these steps through expressions in different media with each one taking the same idea or shape or mark into another format. And it is that process that inspires me and within it I find results I wish to keep and build from.

The alternative route, of just letting go, is great fun - as shown in these pictures below trying out a canvas outside with a tree and sunlight....but I didn't find much inspiration in it. Perhaps I wasn't noticing hard enough, but I suspect I need a little structure and direction in my work to really feel fired up.

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