Friday, 31 December 2010

New years eve a studio resolution

Work in progress on the new series of paintings West Pennines.
There are a number of things going here for me.
  1.  One is the small collection of unsold/soiled or uncompleted work from two art society demonstrations that I did on this area before in 2008, they leans against various walls and I must have dragged them out from the storeroom for some reason a feature or point of interest on them.
  2. Two are the near completed set of smaller oils heavy and glistening in oil,
  3. three is the work in progress in acrylic and 
  4. four, is the variety of drawings and paintings on paper.

    I'm here looking at them all as a group for the first time I can see the route that I've taken as a painter over the last three years or more.

Works in oils heavy palette work

Gary Long an oil painter whom I admire for his painterly ways
groups of buildings and colour can this benefit from the addition of a different paint 

work undertaken early 2007/8

 below studies in pencil and paint on paper done quickly develop an awareness, in depth knowledge, interest and respect for the subject.

Can all these parts come together can we build a new me from these things that embraces the best of the old
and introduces a more exciting new yes it can. So Im looking forward to returning to the studio in the new year loads to do and its exciting....happy new year

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Oil Paintings Rossendale by Rob Miller

Above Ramsbottom
Oil on canvas

Above Ramsbottom 2
30cm x30cm
Oil on canvas
Two final palate knife works in oil complete this small set, redefining the farms into simple blocks of muted colour and form that still maintain a sense of place, farms and quarrymen cottages, glistening in the sunshine or glisten in the rain,  it really makes no difference here above the valley where the clouds sweep endlessly onwards.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Oil Paintings West Pennine and Rossendale by Rob Miller

The new stables detail
Oil on Canvas

Holcombe Road farm
Oil on canvas

The new stables late summer
Oil on Canvas

Farm near Haslingden summer
Oil on Canvas

It takes me an age to get to the easel to paint in oils; there's no reason behind the delay at all but there it is I've confessed; once there and I have cleaned of the old dried paint on the palette and sorted out my knifes and got started holding the palette close to me;  I stop fighting with the paint; and I start to get the smooth texture that can be moulded and moved;  I stop thinking that I'm making a mess and start to live the experience if you know what I mean. Painting then grabs a hold of me and I love it; love doing it the process is everything and the journey to completion is a daily lesson.

Oil is so different from acrylic; when I paint with acrylic I use old white plates and saucers and  I'm always washing them clean along with the brushes. Oil on the other hand is far messier especially with palette knife and I think the pigment carries and stains more than acrylic pigment and polymer does. Both are fun but as a painter I think for me oil wins its just more creative and technically more challenging.
I'm using a number of resources for this well four really, my old faithful book Cezanne in Provence, Kyfan Williams wonderful palette knife paintings of snowdonia,  an English translation of a  recent great Modern Oil painting book book I found in Barcelona its by two Spanish painters Maria Fernanda Canal and Roser Perez and the post 1940's bible my dads old copy Carlsons Guide to Landscape painting.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Haslingden Pennine Drawings by Rob Miller

Back street and skip
Pen and wash

Britannia Mill Pen and wash
Haslingden is one of those Lancashire Pennine towns that hasn't lost its character and interest;  old works and mills survive alongside the original housing and all of set on the sunny side of a steep valley that dissects the Pennines and gives access to the cities of Salford and Manchester from the Ribble Valley and East Lancashire Towns. The town lies bypassed by the new dual carriage way road that cuts through the hills from the M65 to the M60 (aka M62) and its busy main street half remembered. All this makes it a great place to draw and paint.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Along the Road to Blacksnape Drawing by Rob Miller

Looking along the road to Blacksnape
Mixed media on paper
 The first of a series of drawings and paintings exploring the uplands of Lancashire this group deals with industrial waste and changes in the now open spaces and on the outskirts/suburbs of Lancashires towns.  the mines, mills and other detritus of the industrial revolution.
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Britannia Mill Drawings Rob Miller /Poem The Factory Lad by John Walker

Britannia Mill Haslingden

Britannia Mill Haslingden
Falcon Mill Bolton

a poem by John Walker Blackburn poet 1864

Aw s' bi just fifteen next Micklemas-day,
Aw'm nod varra big o' mi age, sooa they say;
But aw hooap as aw've nod done thrivin',
'Cause aw s' hev three looms in awhile, aw'm towd;
Aw've bin learnin' to weyve sin' eight year' owd,
An' to be a good hand aw'm strivin'.

Mi mother's a widow, an' varra poor
Mi fayther's bin deead twelve months or moor,

An' aw'm th' owdst but one eawt o' seven.
Aw could cry when aw think abeawt trouble there's bin,
Heaw mi mother's bin hampered an' moythered, sin'
My fayther took journey to heaven.

When poorly an' bedfast he said to me,—"John,
Tha'll be a goad lad when aw'm deead an' gone,
An' do wad tha can for thi mother.
God help her, poor lass! hoo'll be soorly tried";
Then he covered his face wi his hands an' cried,
While hot tears fell one after th' other.

Just a month after this an' th' bum-bailies coom,
An' sowd most d t' things eawt d th' little back roam,
Wi some cheers, an' an owd ooak table;
They were sent in bi th' landlord, owd Isaac Steel,
An' aw thowt id wer hard, for he knew reet weel
We should pay him off when we were able.

When t' cased clock wer sowd, which a scoor o' years
I'th' corner hed stoode, aw could see there were tears
Deawn mi mother's smooth features rowlin';
An' aw said to misel', we'll ha'e thad clock back,
If aw work o mi life till mi senners crack,
An' mi buryin' bell is towlin'.

Thad clock wer gi'en to her when fost hoo wer wed,
Though id wornd woth so much i' one sense, hoo said
Except 'cause id coom fro' her fayther.
But aw'm fain to say as it's come back neaw—
Gi'en to us ageean; d'ye wander heaw?
Id wer bowt bi a kindly neighbour.

Such kind, thowtful feelin' quite cheered us up,
For there's drops o' sweetness i' th' bitterest cup;
When it's darkest sun's olez shinin';
An' although black clouds may be hingin' abeawt,
Iv yo'll patiently wait, sun's sure to breyk eawt,
An' give 'em a silvery linin'.

So aw lives i' hooaps as this rainy day,
Like o dark weet weather 'll gooa away;
It's a long neet as hes no mornin'.
Time may come when ther'll be nowt but rooases sweet,
While t' thorns 'll be trampled an' crushed at mi feet,
An' aw s' bless thad day aw wer born in.

There's lots can be honest wi' bellies full,
For they mistake puddin' for principle;
Their goodness is ruled bi their porridge,
But aw trust aw s' be one o' thad honest few,
Hatin' dodgin' an' tricks, as 'll struggle through
Wi' a manly unflinchin' corrage.

So aw'll sing for misel, "Cheer up, young heart!
He's a wastrel sowdger as wern'd do his part,
An' stand amidst thunder an' rattle;
It's poverty tries men's mettle an' might,
An' them as con feight wi' a good name bright
Are the heroes of every battle."

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Northern landscape town and country Rob Miller

Ink drawings acrylic that are  gestural and accurate then there are thin washes, dribbles and runs of oil paint maybe more turps than varnish scratched into splatterd maybe torn like the ragged clouds maybe topped with thin glases of turners medium and then redrawn in oily charcoal  secondly slabs of thick yellower paint heavy with linseed drifting across a landscape of mild ochres and browns beneath muted cream skies is this the landscape of my north. Was this the land that I walked across yesterday

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Painters, Poets, pies and Northern folk

Great Hill Ridge
 above Roddlesworth
My studio faces a 19C large mill, a blank brick wall and a pinky-red bus stop, its an outlook which I quite like because I have got into watching northern folk drift past and wait for the bus, "theres nowt as strange as folk tha nowes" which is a north east lanky saying and its reht, for here in Bolton, the home of the balti pasty, there exists an eclectic mix of bus stop people, blond miniskirted and short crop t shirt wearers,  some pregnant are very prevalent, even in the most cutting of winter winds and snow, they stand with their strong muscled, sun bed legs or orange tans, bare, chain smoking and waving at people who drive past, next appears to be persons of asain origin, with thin legs, currently wrapped in what looks like their shiny silk duvets and cute white mosque hats, there are also plenty of mums with kids of differing ethnicity, middle aged caucasion lady's clutching their tarten trolley bags and now and again smartly dressed folk and on friday mornings,  my favourite people an old chap wearing a flat cap and another one who wears a stetson, they get on different buses. Apart from this growing social diagnostic activity and task avoiding,  I've also been reading about another northern painter in the Art of England; (my article was in the same mag the month before); John Thompson who is based in Oldham and paints northern Oldham scenes of guys in flat caps stood around chattin,
I'm not sure if it was this prolonged bus stop watching or not,  but I realised that I had caught cabin fever , what was I doing I thought to myself, spending time wondering whether or not I should paint the bus stop folk instead of my current landscapes..So it was of great relief when the phone rang and a fellow cabin fever sufferer's brusk northern voice suggested that we go for a walk, the voice belonged to a fellow Bolton based painter Jim, Jim's a rare thing, he's a successful painter with integrity, his studio is further up the road from me,  he had also caught the same fever and said on the phone that he felt it would be good to get out and about into the countryside...Jim  had decided that he wanted to get to Tockholes, a small village which commands the Eastern slopes above the lower Ribblesdale valley, here the moors are cleft by the mighty River Roddlesworth which after the ruined Hollinshead Hall and its haunted well, enters a small gorge, edged by the outcrops of steep grit stone and shale beds, the river here journey in rills through some beautiful old beech woods;  I'm  still, a day later not sure whether Jim was driven by the express need to sample the home made  meat pie at the Roddlesworth cafe near Tockholes or that he really did want to get down to the river,  here the ice had formed long stalactites on the cliffs; and in parts the river itself had frozen solid the ice making a step that was both delicate and hard....personally I preferred the open cold slopes of the moorland and  Jim the deeper valley so we eventually we agreed over the pie which we had to have first that we should compromise and undertake a circular walk that took in both moor and valley..

I have to say that the north has its moments and in Lancashire one of these moments is Tockholes it has some undisputed poetical/painterly  corners and Turner could have found his sublime here and Wordsworth penned this verse....

"In this still place, remote from men
Sleeps Osian in the narrow Glen,
in this still place where murmers on 
But one meek streamlet, only one; "

Glen Almain or the Narrow Glen  pg 312 William Wordsworth.  The major works.

There we were, two northern painters and landscapes painters at that, not a cloth cap in site, quoting Worsdworth we perched on our respective scaps of bubble wrap, attop a fallen tree and drank our hot vimtos and coffee, most of the conversation was about our work, what influenced us and what was currently important to we went about our daily chores and the almost meditative process of painting...both of us have a feeling that the integrity of the painter is in both the vision and execution of a piece of work in that when it leaves the studio it should be of an expected quality.
I think it was this discussion and walk along with the bus stop that helped me to focus my attention on my next series which is an exploration of Lancashires town and exploration that whilst encompassing the old cloth cap as well as mill chimneys takes a broader almost existential sublime view that could be linked to Ruskins journeys, Turner and Wordsworth and revisit some of the meditative influences of painters such as Corot, Cezanne and Pizarro's which has always been a hidden influence which I have never fully pursued here in Lancashire.