Monday, 30 May 2022

An exploration


                          An exploration

My previous painting (see "Forever in the clouds") was to be one of a series. But my brushes came up with other ideas. My freely-brushed deep purple zigzag strokes, fading into mauve towards the horizon below, turned into an optimistic calligraphy taking us way up into a vast space. 

Then a kind of sadness came over me. Was it the worldwide tsunami of negative news - becoming unbearable in my old age? My only comfort was to be found in my palette of colours and my brushes.

So intuitively I gently began to surround my initial strokes with pastel greyish greens, blues and pinks, helping the pools of colour to float and meet up in space. I began to develop small dynamic conversations across the whole picture. Bit by bit, I was modulating from a minor key towards light and hope, even in the darkest tones. I was determined to find beauty in my sadness.


                                                  An exploration, watercolour 62 x 45 cm, 2022

So this is not just another cloudscape. It's an exploration of spaceEnlarge the details: you might find some lovely little surprises. 

Friday, 20 May 2022

Forever in the clouds

Forever in the clouds

I'm in my studio, inspired by the soothing flow of Ragas, melodic structures, considered in the Indian tradition to have the ability to "colour the mind" and affect the emotions of the listener. 
I'm in the Flow
so totally involved that I forget the time, 
fully immersed, as I paint pools of watercolour
 that you might call clouds.
My coffee gets cold...
The Vietnamese Buddhist monk and master of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh, the activist for world-peace who passed away in January 2022, was convinced that human Mindfulness and compassion is a continuous positive state of mind that we can develop, share with others and pass on to future generations. It doesn't disappear when our body disintegrates. The energy that we have shared will take on different forms, just as rain or snow are other forms of ever-changing clouds. Our messages have no digital limitations. They are forever universally available as part of the Cosmos.

Forever in the clouds, watercolour 51 x 42 cm. 2022

Monday, 11 April 2022

Rest in Peace


Rest in Peace

I'm lying on the massage table with my old aches and pains under the strong yet gentle hands of my holistic masseuse. For me she always puts on a CD of Ragas (in Sanskrit the word also means colouring), classical Indian music that affects our emotions and wellbeing. From the very first long tone I relax into what seems like a wonderful garden of continuously changing colours. For more than an hour I'm at peace with the world. If this were the very last experience of my life it would be a blessing. 

There, on my bed of colours, I suddenly realised how fortunate I am. I consciously sent my loving thoughts to all those now terribly unfortunate, to the tragically bereaved mourning the loss of their loved ones, young and old, wherever they may be. At that moment I was inspired to make this abstract painting for them, with vibrant but gentle watercolours, a paradise where their loved ones may rest in peace.


                                             Rest in Peace, watercolour approx. 65 x 45 cm., 2022.


Tuesday, 8 February 2022

José Carreras turns seventy-five


A great tenor turns seventy-five
The tenor José Carreras turned seventy-five on December 5th. and I have fond memories of my contacts with him. In 1995 I was commissioned to make a painting of him for the Birmingham Symphony Hall Collection, for a Royal Gala Concert on May 4th, to raise funds for the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation.

Against all odds, Carreras was cured of acute leukaemia in 1988. As he put it: "I was one of the lucky few". His recovery and his subsequent concerts to raise funds for research and awareness attracted global admiration. It was in tribute to his courage that Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo joined him in 1990 for the first of the famous The Three Tenors concerts.

José Carreras, watercolour, 84 x 56cm, 1995

Because José Carreras is a singer, everything revolves around his breathing.  Despite the swirling colour, José's characteristically extended hands give great stability to the painting, like the base of a pyramid.  Our eye is drawn up to where the apex of the pyramid should be, in the white space just in front of his open mouth, from which we expect to hear the sound of that powerful voice.

Uncannily, the timing of this commission coincided with the period when my wife, the cellist Vivian King, was in hospital with yes - acute leukaemia. The emotional pressure was enormous. Half the day at the studio, trying to finish the painting whilst expecting yet another phone call from the hospital, announcing a new crisis. José was a fellow musician whose survival was legendary.  He sent us his good wishes, and I played his recordings to Vivian as she endured radiation and chemotherapy, giving us courage, inspiration and harmony.  Think of Franck's 'Panis angelicus', Puccini's tragic aria 'E lucevan le stelle' (Tosca) and, in particular, 'Che gelida manina' (La Bohème). 

This watercolour was literally painted with many tears, completed and signed on the day Vivian received rich-red new bone-marrow, a day of hope which alas, was not to be fulfilled.

I felt the need to make a contribution to the Carreras fund for leukaemia-research, so in October 1996 I joined José Carreras, Amanda Roocroft and the Hallé Orchestra for a huge fund-raising concert in Manchester. I painted fluid kinetic paintings live to the music: Lara's "Granada", Dvorák's "Song to the Moon", Verdi's "Brindisi" and a whole range of popular classics, all for the good cause. The amazing Martin† and Gillian Lawson co-produced this unforgettable event and immediately became dear friends and fans.