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Moving on

The last painting I wrote about was a revisiting of an earlier work, not necessarily reflecting what i am thinking about currently. This painting develops the abstraction explored in "Ice on the Pond." I am satisfied that I can get this amount of abstraction into landscapes and that marks a new threshold for the evolution of my work, but I am trying to work out how do get there with my human figures.

This lock is at St. Catherine's, on the Wey Navigation south of Guildford and is a way point on what we call the three mile walk. I've crossed o this bridge frequently and have pondered long and hard as to whether there was the makings of a painting there. It is complicated. In one direction the water curves off to the left as it heads towards Guildford. In the other direction the ground is lat and the water goes straight as an arrow towards Godalming through a landscape of trees and scrub that remind me of Constable and the Flemish nature reserve at The Zwin: Flanders might have looked like this before it became so densely settled. So it is a little bit like home from home for me and does not prompt me to respond.

A couple of years ago we sat by the lock and watched swallow dive bombing the water for a drink before zipping up again in search of more insects to eat. There may yet be a painting coming out of that, but not this one. I think I ned to see the birds again and see if anything prints on my memory.

Walking out to the lock recently I looked again at the options. I rejected the temptation to paint a big sky scape with clouds and a diminutive landscape with a canal and looked north. Somewhat shamefacedly, as I thought I had shaken off all that conditioning, I slipped back into being an architect-as-artist. If I treated the lock architecturally I could focus on a man made artefact in the landscape, and crop out, as it were, most of the landscape elements. My sketch suggested that there was an enigmatic icon there as strong as the stile in "Surrey Stile." This all happened 9 days ago, so the image in my mind had a sombre background of trees which had yet to flush out their greenery.

I set it up as an almost symmetric view. In my mind the arms of the lock gates are tipped with white as they are in reality but if I included them that would have meant widening ou the view to include them and that diluted the impact the massive gates themselves. So i cut back so that they would dominate the picture. There are some shadows round the edge of the lock gate on the left and there is an indication of a wooden hand railing top right. I was particularly keen to have a few flecks of blue in the reflections of the gates to liven up the area. On the centre line there is stand trees that I had noticed growing on the river bank and by making them spread to the left it emphasised the asymmetry.

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