Sketchbook Pages

Recent sketchbook pages, with notes regarding possible display planning for the masters exhibition, and intention to produce accompanying zine/ similar publication as a vehicle for the many small scale drawings, most likely divided by subject.

And pages concerning development of a new painting with a basis in genre painting, particulary Dutch Merry Company painting and the allegorical still lifes of Pieter Aertsen, as a means of exploring composition and narrative.

Jacob Jordaens and Rubens, copying and influence

In an earlier post I noted how Rubens had produced copies of Titian paintings such as the rape of Europa, presumably as a learning exercise, and also that his Entombent of Christ was a variation following Caravaggio’s earlier composition.

I have also previously noted Rubens collaborations, primarily of interest to me being the series of allegories of the senses produced with Bruegel.

it is interesting to also note Rubens direct influence on his contemporaries, which although a likelihood, I really noticed when looking at Jacob Jordaens painting of Prometheus (more on that in a minute).
Jacob Jordaens had previously produced an almost identical copy of Rubens 1615 painting “The Floght of Lot”, with only minor colour variations.

When reading about Jordaens Prometheus bound, reference was made to compositional similarities with Rubens approach to the same subject, and also variations in the Jordaens piece; the figure’s face being more expressive, the body less contorted and the addition of related extra elements placing the figure as Prometheus and not any hapless chap being pecked by an eagle: the clay figure and tools indicating Prometheus’s creation of man, Hermes almost seeming to enjoy the scene below.

of major interest is that Jordaens has directly appropriated the eagle from the Rubens painting ( incidentally the eagle in the Rubens was painted by Frans Snyders in a collaboration, much as he often sought the expertise of others for certain parts of paintings such as flowers etc). The primary difference being that the eagle in Jordaens is of a larger scale compared to the figure, however the pose, colouring, feathers etc are exactly the same. One wonders whether Jordaens made this exact copy as a nod to his influences or (more likely) whether Snyders reused a working drawing from 30 years prior in a collaboration, as it is noted that Snyders often added still life elements to other’s compositions, including Jordaens.

New painting in progress

Paintings have often made use of elements of other artists work to create a new image which can be an almost parody reworking, or else a borrowing of composition/ a figure in the service of an entirely new image. Some artists have frequently produced multiple versions of the same image (David’s Napoleon on horseback) or multiple variations such as Picasso’s reworking of Las Meninas/ Dejeuner sue l’herbe.

Here I have used the exact same composition which began the previous painting (however enlarged to 80 x 80 cm from 50 x 50).

I was dissatisfied with changes made in the painting process of the previous effort- partly relating to materiality of leaving hessian bare in addition to pasted on paper, which had worked on other paintings but I was not happy with.

decided again to start fairly restricted palette, and slowly build the forms/ colour on top of the drawing.

thematically this painting is an attempt to combine many elements of the areas I have researched, and was partly sparked by the death of the divide Prince Phillip- just as the Emperor character (in my imagination) inspired fervent followers and detractors, shown in a previous funeral procession drawing, here a patriarchal figure is represented by an enlarged death mask, statue or even could be considered his literal face if considered to be a giant of a man to match his personality.

New Painting Started

A new painting begins In an attempt to combine the strands of research: a giant face/ death mask of a leader/patriarch figure lies as though in state in woodland clearing. The crowd surrounding representing the dual positions of society towards any figure: if you have a stance, opinion or even exist someone will find an opposition; even if just “playing devils advocate”.

Half of the people can be part right all of the time

Some of the people can be all right part of the time

But all the people can’t be all right all the time

I think Abraham Lincoln said that

“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”

I said that

Talking World War III Blues, Bob Dylan

So we have people defiling the face either physical being or representation of the character, others mourn, all are imbibing Bacchus’ wine; celebrating a life or celebrating the end of it.

To be continued…


Another diptych, developed from a double sided drawing made in a science textbook. The absorbency of the textbook paper results in ink bleeding through to be visible on the reverse side, when alcohol based markers are used. These marks would trigger a (frequently related) new image, the bleed from which could affect the original drawing and provoke further mark making.

The two drawings I have here referred to in developing a painting struck me in there capacity to invite a narrative in the viewer, and a dialogue between to the two panels, my initial conception when approaching the painting being a title of “the conversation”, two people in there separate panels, possibly desiring contact but ultimately being alone (despite being together). The nature of drawing on both sides results in the setting being reversed, if both are viewed together we would appreciate this setting as being the same, but viewed from two sides. This simple fact suggested that perhaps both figures are indeed at the same place at the same time but separated by a barrier (wall/fence etc) as suggested by the relatively high horizon line). Two people alone, perhaps thinking they are individuals, noone else is like them, yet just over the wall is their equal. Possibly…

Further work

Development of a painting

Painting developed from a double sided marker pen drawing, tentatively titled “To See the Universe, and Go Green”. Mixed media on canvas, 42 x 60cm.

The source image was an improvised drawing reacting to a) the bleed from a drawing on the reverse side and b) the linear diagram printed at the bottom of the textbook page.

The painting is a response to this drawing, possibly an attempt to legitimise or imbue the image with greater meaning? It is not a painting of the drawing in the way that Luc Tuymans will produce a painting of a photograph of a drawing, but rather a painting inspired by the drawing, a separate journey in which the process of production suggests new possibilities in terms of visual content and potential narrative.


The composition of this drawing interested me such that wanted to develop the image as a painting.

Having initially sketched out the design, the face profile appeared vaguely familiar, like that of a 1920’s actress or starlet- and combined with the hair bun brought to mind Virginia Wolfe.

Wolfe is a writer of whom I have little knowledge, however brief research suggested she would be a welcome addition to my stable of eccentric/tragic characters.

upon the initial sketching in stage the foreground figure evoked in me a memory of Money’s portrait of Camille in a Kimono, “ la japonaise” , yet on sourcing an image of the painting I discovered my memory to have been incorrect- the pose was completely different- however another early portrait of Camille in a green dress served as an ideal model for the pose. Incidentally, Camille Monet was another figure to have died tragically young.

I have retained the same composition as in the drawing, however the paint handling allows the image to be translated differently. Given the handling differences with the brush, and my habit towards painterly handling and tonality, the painting will inevitably be read differently to the marker drawing. In the drawing simplicity of handling, blocks of colour allow for a flowing bold illustrative impact, like an advertisement. The handling and colour voices in the painting much more invite a questioning approach to what is “meant” or how we understand the visual before us. Is the small figure representing a real woman standing before a mural, is she a mannequin/model beside a painting or photo, is the face in profile a real person we see beyond a pane of glass with a woman reflected in it?… and so on

to be continued