Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Painting, Old Cotija Estapona.

This old Cotija on the far outskirts of Estapona sits deep in the arroyo Hondo below high Los Picos de Reales. Uninhabited the small house is a classic example of the old style of Andalucian home. Stone walls, plastered with lime and painted white with a stone and clay tiled roof. The structure is reminiscent of many European working/ living structures with sheep etc underneath and people living above. The walls are now riven with a large crack that is irreparable. I stated painting it in the winter rains because it reminded me of the North England small cottages of Cumbria.

Liquatex Acrylic on canvas 60 x 60 cm

Painting, The Road to the Seirra Crestalini.

The Road to the Seirra from Casares starts from the end of Casares pueblo . The road climbs initially slowly than quickly gains height up the flanks of the Seirra past old fincas and Cotijas. The pines give of an intense clear aroma in the heat and the air sparkles and dances with the constant movement of the trees in the warm wind.

Acrylic on canvas 71 x 71 cm

Painting Los Picos Estapona

The air was so hot that it felt too hot for the skin to cope with, it was as solid as the earth and more dominant than the mountain beyond.

Detail from Los Picos Reales and Finca from Casares Bahia. Painting for the Present Global Art Barcelona January Exhibition.
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Monday, 28 September 2009

The Practical Business of Painting by John Piper

I include this here because I think it an excellent article on painting and the painters craft by one of the great English painters of the last century. John Piper,

Abstraction is a luxury. yet some painters today indulge in it as if it was the bread of life. The early Christian sculptors, wall-painter and glass-painters had a sensible attitude towards abstraction. However hard one tries (many attempts have been made to make them tow the line with modern art) one cannot catch them out indulging in pure abstraction. Their abstraction, such as it is, is always subservient to an end - the Christian end, as it happened. Abstraction is a luxury that has been left to the present day to exploit It is a luxury just as any single ideal is, and like a single ideal it should be approached all the time, but not pre-supposed all the time. To pre-suppose it always, if you are a painter is to paint the same picture always: or else to give up painting altogether because there is nothing left to paint....
Louring clouds that belong to romantic painting hanging over a bare beach that might have been made for Courbet. At the edge of the sea, sand. Then, unwashed by the waves at low tide, grey-blue shingle against the warm brown sand: an intense contradiction in colour, in the same tone, on the same plane. Fringing this, dark seaweed, an irregular litter of it, with a jagged edge towards the sea broken here and there by washed-up objects; boxes, tins, waterlogged sand shoes, banana skins, starfish, cuttlefish, dead seagulls, sides of boxes with THIS SIDE UP on them, fragments of sea-chewed linoleum with a washed-out pattern. This line of magnificent wreckage vanishes out of sight in the distance, but it is a continous line that girdles England, and can be seen reappearing on the skyline in the other direction along this flat beach. Behind this rich and constricting belt against the sand dunes there is drier sand, sparser shingle, unwashed even at high tides, with dirty banana skins now and sides of boxes with the THIS SIDE UP almost unreadable. That, in whatever direction you look, is a subject worthy of contemporary painting. Pure abstraction is undernourished. It should at least be allowed to feed bare on a beach with tins and broken bottles.
From 'Abstraction on the Beach, Vingtieme Siecle, 1 July 1938, p.41
'There's one very odd thing about painters who like drawing architecture. They hardly ever like drawing the architecture of their own time. I know perfectly well that I would rather paint a ruined abbey half-covered with ivy and standing in long grass than I would paint it after it has been taken over by the office of works, when they have taken all the ivy off and mown all the grass with an Atco. And also I would rather paint a new house when it's twenty years old than when it's new. You can call it reaction, or prejudice, or anything you like - but sitting down to paint a new house would give me the same feeling as sitting down to paint a new-born baby. It's just one of those things I'd rather not do'
From 'Buildings in English Art', in 'John Piper at the A.A'. The Architect & Building News, 9 may 1941, p.85
Well, Constable may not be romantic but if not how do you account for 'The world is wide; no two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of the world', and a thousand or so remarks of the same kind? But what do you mean by romantic, and what do I? Do yo mean only Blake, Fuseli, S. Palmer, John Martin at there queerest? ('Queerest' not meant derogatorily, but as dealing with the 'unusual' or inspired'). If you don't include the English illustrators of the sixties whom do you include? And if, including them, you don't include Sickert who held the fort of inspired illustration against all comers - including Roger Fry and yourself - if not, why not? To me, dreams are not as romantic as bits of real experience. To me, similarly, Ernst, Dali, you at your most surrealist are not ever as romantic as Rouault, Braque, and you searching with calm excitement for the reality that will clinch the bargain of your vision on the Chiltern slopes or the Dorset Downs. And I don't care what Herbert Read may say, or all the boys with double barrelled foreign names and addresses in St Johns Wood. The value of abstract painting to me, and the value of surrealist painting are to me, are (paradoxically, if you like) that they are classical exercises, not romantic expressions. They are disciplines - even dreams can be disciplinarian - which open a road to ones own heart - but they are not the heart itself,. I doubt if under their complete domination one masterpiece will ever be created. After an abstarct period - what a release one feels! The avenue at Stadthampton, or the watercress beds at Ewelme are seen with such new intensity! But if one abstracts them finally, so that those posts are areas of colour, and the waterfall into the watercress bed becomes like a Ben relief, then the result can be hung perhaps in Cork Street, but not hung against ones' heart. And, so too, with classical old, domineering old surrealism.

From a letter to Paul Nash, 12 January 1943, Tate Gallery Archives.

Nobody but a rash man, in these days, tries to make universal rules about painting and I think an individual painter can only profitably speak from his own practical experience, which has not necessarily many points of contact with the practice of others.


I am a painter and draughtsman of landscape and architecture. I am more fitted by birth and environment to enjoy painting such subjects as others. And since painting is physically and mentally an arduous task it is necessary to have every encouragement - like this enjoyment of subject - if you are going to persist in it for long. Otherwise, as with any full-time job that you think about most of the time, when you are not actually working, as well as when you are, you are likely to get bored and irritated, and to dissipate your energies whenever the opportunity occurs, in relaxations. And you soon begin to make such opportunities. My parents and grandparents were country people and I was born in the country; and I have always had an interest in architecture, having looked at old churches, houses and villages, and read guide books, since childhood. So to choose other subjects - such as portraits, which are more than a full-time job, demanding special capabilities of insight into human character - would be in the end to go against my natural bent. This does not mean that I paint landscapes and architecture all the time. Doing that, it would be easy to get into a rut. For doing exactly what you think you like all the time makes you feel in the end that nothing at all is worth doing. For five years, I painted nothing but abstract pictures, which I found a good discipline: especially then, ten years ago, when there were so many 'directions' and 'isms' that it was difficult for a student to know which way to turn. I found abstract painting helpful because it taught me something of the values of clear colours, one against another, when they have no goods to deliver but themselves. Some colours seem to advance in front of other colours, others seem to retire; some 'kill' others, while some seem to make others more vivid.

Why artists draw from the nude

But I think the best subject to return to (and a good painter always, in one sense, remains a student) is the nude. Because, in the human figure you can find simple forms and subtle forms combined better than in any subject. Also, because you can easily recognise any positive mistakes you make when you draw and paint it. If you draw a tree and add a big branch that isn't there, or add two or three big branches, so long as they join on to the main trunk properly, nobody is any the wiser. But if you make a head too big or a body, let alone adding an extra leg to the human trunk, you can see what you've done at once; and you have done it for one of three reasons - you tried, and failed, to get it 'right', you did it to be funny, or you did it for some symbolic purpose. The human form, to humans, is the best-known and most easily recognisable form of all, which means that we see more of the subtle variation in it than any other form. One sunflower is much like another sunflower, except perhaps to a botanist; but we all recognise one human being from the next.But, in general, for me, the subject is landscape and architecture. I believe it is necessary in these days, to like, and even if possible to love, your subject: 'in these days' because there is a great deal of hate about, and there are many temptations to paint 'hate' pictures. In the past 'hate' pictures have by no means always been bad pictures, but to-day the artist, in so far as he is a leader, has an urge to counterbalance, rather than to increase, hatred.


I am not interested in 'copying' what is in front of me. I find copying pictures very useful and enjoyable up to a point, but copying nature is a different affair. It is, at the best, a dull occupation, though I much enjoy using a camera, and find photographs of people and places a good jog to the memory: and they can help you to see and record things in a fresh light, or an aspect that had not struck you before. Naturalistic painting can, probably, do the same thing; but it would seem to me a duller occupation than any of the crafts such as weaving, or basket-making, or thatching, or brick-laying. 'Good' painting has never been naturalistic painting. What is it then? That is not so much a mystery as a thing it is impossible to describe in words, though a good critic - a rarity - will sometimes suggest what it is. Good paintings in the long run tell their own story - though not in words - for those who have intent eyes, an open mind, and much patience. There is no quick, and no other, road to being able to tell a good painting from a bad one. The nearest I can get to describing what I try to do in painting is to say that I want to make a pictorial parallel for what I see, complete in itself and yet derived from nature - a lively symbol that seems to belong in a picture frame. I know when I have done it, up to my own limit, but it is never completely satisfactory to me; and I always go on trying to do better. After a time you get interested; it becomes an absorbing occupation, and you cannot stop.


I draw in pencil, black and coloured inks, chalks (both pastel and greasy-crayon kind), water-colour, gouache and oils. All except the last I sometimes combine in one work. I see no reason why gouache should not be combined with water-colour in the same work, though it is against traditional and conventional practice. In oils, similarly, I often use glazes; that is, transparent colours thinly spread over a ground of white or another colour (I use colour on a rag, spread over a dry white under-painting). And these glazes can be happily combined with more thickly-painted areas. This, in oils, is one of the 'traditional' methods. Though I have done much oil-painting out-of-doors in the past, I find the physical difficulties so great that I have almost given it up - though one can never tell; something might tell me to take it up again at once! But a canvas is unmanageable in a high wind, and proper equipment heavy to carry any distance. As a rule, I use inks and watercolours out-of-doors, sometimes adding several pages of written notes, or sketched notes, about colours and tones, relative shapes and proportions of parts of a subject. All these I take home and, at leisure, with the aid of 'squaring up' (making relatively-sized squares of the same number on the original drawing and on the larger canvas), and with the aid, too, of all the paraphernalia of a home-studio (easel, brushes, turpentine and linseed oil, large palette of glass or metal, rags, constant and well-known light) paint in oils from them. The careful deliberation allowed by working later in the studio gives me time to reconsider, and make more careful and leisurely statements. One can lose 'freshness' doing this, but 'freshness' belongs to the out-of-doors sketch, probably; and sometimes this is complete enough in itself.

The trouble is to keep up a really interested feeling for your subject and painting, letting one play itself off against the other, Sometimes it seems to me that the ability to do this constitutes the whole of the art.

An extract from The Artist and the Public published in Current Affairs No. 96, 2 June 1945 by The Army Bureau of Current Affairs.

The titles are the names of places, meaning that there was an involvement there, at a special time: an experience affected by the weather, the season and the country, but above all concerned with the exact location and it's spirit for me. The spread of moss on a wall, a pattern of vineyards or a perspective of hop-fields may be the peg, but it is not hop-poles or vineyards or church towers that these pictures are meant to be about, but the emotion generated by them at one moment in one special plane. They are about what Paul Nash liked to call the genius loci. Romantic painting is about the particular, not the general. I have enjoyed the fields and stone walls and small hills of south-west Wales, and the darker, more insular-feeling West of Scotland landscape, and the poplars and water-meadows and the figs and mistletoe and walnuts of northern and central France.

From a statement in catalogue John Piper, European Topography 1967-69, Marlborough Fine Art, May-June 1969

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Painting of The bathing hut; Cranham Mill Pond:- work in progress

A beautiful English corner. A view of the recently restored bathing hut and the pond beyond. Sketched and painted from the path that runs up to Sanatorium Road from Mill Lane Cranham.

Acrylic on canvas

70 x 70 cm
that overlooks the Mill pond at Cranham Posted by Picasa

Paintings of Cranham: Cotswolds:- Work in progress.

A number of images fresh this morning  of work or paintings in progress that I am making  for my  Cranham Cotswolds series. So far I've created the compositions and started to block in mid tones on top of the under paintings of reds and blues. I've also just switched to Liquitex from Galeria and I have been well pleased by its velvety hue, consistency  of tone  and heavy body. All the images are acrylic on canvas 70 x 70 cm. All the paintings were inspired by a walk I undertook down along Mill Lane and up towards Sanatorium Road. One of my main thoughts that sprang to mind as I pushed and pulled the paint around the canvas was that after a year spent painting in the Spanish Sierras  I can no longer  take for granted the  the multiplicity of greens that make up the beauty rural England.
Horse Chestnut meadows

Mill House and Mill Race Cranham

An old Manor or Hall, Cranham Cotswolds

Studio Visitor

My work is becoming more and more natural
 if the dragonfly who kept visiting me and
sitting on my paint brush handles is
anything to go by.
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Monday, 21 September 2009

Galeria 151, Framing Services, Costa del Sol

Lisa at Galeria 151, direction Casares from Estapona can provide a
 good selection of quality frames as well as stretch new and old
canvas's at a good price. The Galeria 151 is situated just past
Estapona on the A7. Its on the right hand side, the first exit right
after the West Estapona roundabout.

tel 952 800 676

email galeria151@gmail.com

Art Material Supplies Costa del Sol

For the best art materials for the professional artist, including an excellent range of oil and acrylic paints plus supports I can highly recommend

Bellas Artes.
Los Arcos.
C/Galverston no 9 29601Marbella,
Tel/Fax 952 86 05 54
email: Plosarcos@terra.es

Friday, 4 September 2009

Completing work in the outdoor studio Casares

An idyllic spot today, no gale force wind blowing paint, brushes and paint pots everywhere, so I was able to rig up all the sun brolly's even the one from the beach that blew into the sea last week....creating an interesting sand fall over the artwork it self and ruining my cup of tea. Enough shade was eventually formed by the brolly's and the plants foliage to make outdoor work do able under the very, very hot sun This work is of a Cotija below the Sierra Crestalinni a perfect spot high above the valley under the shade of high cliffs, as I sketched there and started the canvas I was joined overhead by a flock of vultures not to forget the fox which rustled past and a small family of wild boar which wandered down the track until they were across from me and then ran off grunting and squealing loudly when they realised I was there poised with my brush as my only defence against there large curved tusks. I'll have to rig up a "me a vegetarian" sign so next time they might stop for a chat. Tomorrow I hope to complete this painting wind permitting. 71 x 71 acrylic on canvas

Eucalyptus Casares Bahia Painting

This Eucalyptus tree is a part of the remnants of a grove which sits at the roadside before sea and its beaches are reached in Casares Bahia.
71 x 71 cm Acrylic on Canvas
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Olive Tree Casares Painting by Rob Miller

60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Canvas Casares Olive Tree.
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Pueblo Manilva Acrylic on canvas

71 x 71 work in progress Pueblo
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