In my studio there’s a ‘wet’ corner, and a ‘dry’ corner. The dry corner is where I’m sitting now, typing onto this computer. I have a large monitor-screen, linked to a Macbook, and a big drawing tablet and stylus (I’m no good with a mouse). Surrounding me are lots of notes, receipts, junk and not-so-junk mail, CDs and other stuff that I could throw away (or file) in an hour. Which I don’t. The dry corner exerts a ‘default pull’ (the computer).

My wet corner is currently dry. It’s the art bit: a big drawing board with jars of brushes, bottles of watercolour, ink, pencils… I’ve been painting: flat and flattened still-lifes on thick rough-edged Khadi paper. I like domestic ingredients, pushed towards abstraction (but not quite there). I start with a big brush laden with Indian ink: make a shape. Look at it, decide what shape next, where, what colour, build the still-life as I go along. But it’s a nerve-racking process: it should be spontaneous, but it can go very wrong. There’s no correcting or over-painting with watercolours and ink – you just have to tear it up, start again.

I was watching a short film, courtesy of Creative Review, about how hand-painted signs in india are being replaced by digitally-printed ones, and how those highly-skilled (even visionary) artists are losing their livelihoods. Now, it seems, anyone with a copy of Corel Paint can take their design to a printer to produce a cheap banner or shop frontage, and make a big (often horrible) impact. I’m listening to internet radio on a computer, and Manu Dibango’s ‘Big Blow’ is generating extraordinary coloured patterns on the screen: unimaginably complex moving shapes, whirling and changing to each beat.

In the end, I ask myself: given the huge advances in technology – Photoshop (yes OK, I use it all the time), digital printing, CGI, 3-D movies, web sites, computer games – this huge bombardment of increasingly sensational visual stuff – are we getting desensitised to simple imagery? In the future, will anyone respond to marks made by a human hand?

 

 

(I declare an interest: some of my paintings will be shown in the Hearth Pizzeria, opening later in September, Lewes. Seen here is Still life: studio, with memento mori).

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