Inner critic


170404a Lady at Piano (2017) oil on canvas 135 x 103cm

My inner critic was tearing his hair out while I was painting these, especially 170404a Lady at Piano. I invent the content as I go along, thinking “What the hell is this? Stop! Do something else!”, but for some reason the more embarrassing the painting gets, the more inclined I am to keep going with it. I decided to let this one come out without self-censoring – not deliberately “so-bad-it’s-good” (as I suspect Harry Hill and Stella Vine intend, with their sloppy celebrity paintings), but just uncritically allowing it to take form. I feel like I learn much more by painting this way than if I was trying to make something “good”.

The last thing added to 170404a Lady at Piano was the small trumpet thing in the top left corner. It pulls the picture together, I think, so that taught me something about composition.

The lack of colour felt really oppressive with these. (Stuart Davis said, “I don’t know why anyone would want to make dull pictures” – me neither, but it keeps happening to me anyway!) I don’t miss the hassle of mixing paint and cleaning brushes, nor the infuriating confusion of trying to overcome my colour blindness, but I do miss the “life” of colour compared to all the dead greys I’m working with. Tomorrow I’ll probably forget about it again. It comes and goes.


170404b Chocolate Sauce (2017) oil on canvas 46 x 41cm

The painter I thought of most today was Cecilia Gimenez, the lady whose attempt at restoring a fresco made the world’s press in 2012. It’s such a wonderful failure.



2 thoughts on “Inner critic

  1. you blog often enough Liam for everything you say to be fine. It doesn’t have to have a gravely prepared link to your work or thinking. So your mention of Cecilia Gimenez I won’t comment on. But if I were commenting I would say go fuck yourself.

    Now that’s out of the way, I’m really glad you’ve blogged about Lady at Piano. We have discussed it I think on Facebook. You got back to me to say you had fixed it with the trumpet (or something like that) and I either couldn’t see the trumpet or the picture wasn’t clear enough. So I sort of shrugged and imagined I had missed the point. Now, here, I see it, and it does indeed work something extra into the whole. What a discovery for you.

    You mention again the colour bar. Now’s not the time for me to get into that one again. If for no other reason than I really believe that your putting the colour aside is showing benefits. I can’t verify that, but it seems to me that your NOT stressing about the colour question has freed you up for now to zero in on other aspects of your technique and understanding.

    I now remember saying that the Lady at Piano was Pinocchio. She almost is. She might be. I don’t know why – I was expecting you to illuminate this remark of mine. The Germans would agree.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s