Have trimmed my obligations to make way for concentrating more on the essentials of making work and keeping afloat.   Have given myself a horrible ultimatum, which is If I haven’t done x, y and z by this time next year then I have to get a proper job (full-time paid work). X is the basic earn £x (it is a set figure) per month. Y is have my work in min of 6 group / solo exhibitions where I don’t do legwork for anyone else, i.e. likely paid group exhibitions.  Z is to work out the answer to life, the universe and everything, actually no – hold that, though it is just as demanding! – Figure what I think art is for and therefore clarify my own role as an artist.  Told you it was a biggie!

This is why I’ve been quiet.

Have just had a fabulous trip to London (last weekend) and discovered unexpected things along the way.  Wanted to go and see Ai Weiwei at the RA, but as the queue was an hour and a half we admired the bolted together trees and went to see the White exhibition – a project by Edmund de Waal in the Print Room and library at what seems like the top of the RA https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/white-a-project-by-edmund-de-waal .  I’d highly recommend going.  The library was a treat, seeing De Waal’s cups up close and many other white artworks to surprise and be curious about.  There was even an Ai Weiwei in there.

Saw work by students of The Drawing Year at Christies on the way to the ICA and Fig.2 – I am really taken by the course.  Since last Tuesday when I had a reality check and resounding crash to the floor– my spirits that is – my 254 word paintings have been on hiatus – I have got to number 33.  I am reviewing my working process and really looking at them to see what is going on.  I am now going to work on each painting until I get a jolt – if that means working over and over the same piece, that’s fine.  I feel my effort has been too little.  Part of my plans for the word series was to back it up with drawing from life – growth forms – which has slipped – but I am back on that now, except – as I’m also going through a need to draw and make a self-portrait – this comes of a need to reassess everything – which nicely, though unintentionally links to a collaborative project I am doing with HCA students Viv Barraclough, Ash Roberts and Becky Sumptor called portrait:TACHBROOK at Tachbrook market in December.  The drawing I am now focusing on is simply drawing where I am, so today I have been drawing in Abergavenny, first stop – along a leafy walkway, treading in old-fashioned paint, with a dog walker with a Scottie dog the only passer-by.  Then sheep on a hill field, with a passer by asking to see and asking did I draw many animals?  Then nearly back home for coffee and saw again a particular path to a cottage had gathered many chewing gum pieces – someone always empties their mouth at the same place each time they pass – charming – but sketched it anyway.

With the 254 word paintings I am frustrated that I’ve recently had to work on paper due to lack of art material funds, really want to be working on canvas.  I have a temporary job and an interview for a permanent p/t job next week, and am hopeful I get this one and have a steady income.  Be nice not to have money on my mind so much.  It isn’t helpful, however necessary the stuff is.

I have been doing a lot of getting costs together, meeting people, finding funding sources and writing funding applications for my Flash mob(ile) library and library text performance project– dancers responding to text through movement.  Attempting to get the majority of it together in the next few days.

The concept is to translate text into movement.  Working with texts within Abergavenny library, the dancers will be developing genuine, personal responses to it.  This involves a choreographer working with individuals to develop their own expressions of the text.  The text can be projected into the library so the audience can appreciate what the dancers are responding to.

Each dancer is an outlet for the words on the page, converting the text with their body, character and perception.

What might individuals find through the books they read?  Does reading transform the reader?  Slightly obvious questions, but still on my mind even so.  There are more layers to this and I’ve only touched the surface so far.  To express experiences gained through libraries physically.

My way of working is similar to how I read books – I have many on the go at once.   The scratch-cards are still being gathered, plus I am doing a little method acting to get more into the mind-set, though very controlled.  Any small change I find on walks go into a pot and once enough I buy a scratch card.  I have just begun to log scratch cards and pennies found and the results on a spreadsheet.

More stalking and drawing of the area coming up.


I’m now onto number 28/254 paintings and I have now had a chance to look back on works I have done over a month ago. Some of them I will leave alone and some I will add to as looking at them again I don’t consider them finished.

I have zero funds (I am working to find a solution i.e. a paid position, but till I get that I have no budget for art materials, though I am getting fitted light in my shed soon) and I do have paint, but am running very low on some colours. So I am having to use them more sparingly.

I started the 254 paintings wanting to stick to using canvas and I would prefer this but I have now nearly run out ( I have a little more left), so I am working over old works on paper and wood too. And on the look out for material to paint on. As I was back in April. Same pursuit, different title now maybe seeking 214 (have 40 already, 28 underway) surfaces to paint on.

I’m now on painting 28/254 and looking at my paintings, though with each one I am thinking about a word to begin with and then on and off through the painting process, It isn’t at all clear that the work’s starting point is a word.
What I find myself doing through the process is concentrating on the surface, the marks of the previous painting, the contours of current or previous gestures in paint.

This week my painting routine has also involved a warm up piece which I add to each day, usually just one element is added each time. An ice breaker, I find I do need this. My art practice thrives on momentum and this is so regularly lost with other tasks I must do (am keeping them to the barest minimum!) Then there is the choosing of canvas/paper/whatever surface I can get hold of to paint on. Picking the word out of the bag, looking up its meaning and painting.

So – in this I am beginning to analyse what I actually do and what I think I am doing / what I had intended to do and figure out what the difference is! I really hard for me to spot.

I had been intending that the whole painting was responding to the word I get, but I am increasingly responding to whats gone before on the surface. So does what I am doing have anything to do with the words? I think it has a slight, a very tenuous link to the words, but sometimes I think it has no link, the surface I am working on can dominate from the very start.

I am currently looking at the work of Christopher Wool.

Due to lack of material to paint on might do another call out for surfaces to paint on and be on the look out for material up for grabs.

I am interested to see what would change if I took some of what I’ve painted over the past 2years (the most intriguing) and see what they might be like as murals / huge.. But work a bit like Paul Westcombe does on walls, a motif in mind but nothing complete. In my painting I often follow contours of the paint and many other tendencies, things that I repeatedly do but have been trying to stop as it feels like I’m using them as comfortable things to do and I don’t trust using them. What if I didn’t repress these?

Something I am doing more of with the paintings I’m doing now is making minor changes as stepping back more often. A bit slower, a little bit delicate.

So, while the painting goes on, like my heartbeat, other things are also developing. I am working on something that feels complicated bringing many other people into, but at its core is very simple. I’m turning text into movement. As Marie-Pierre Leroux (Artist) put it when I was talking it all through earlier this week – “I am asking text to walk out as a dancer.” I have been talking to many people about this, some who’ll be involved and so far Abergavenny library and Dance Blast (also in Abergavenny). This project is putting me quite on the edge, it is stretching what I have done with text to its limit. I am in new territory and am looking for videos and articles/books to find out more about experimental dance, other artist pushing text into new forms and anything else that could be useful.