eggs have legs and other tales of intimate rebellion…

(more paintings from the end of earth 2019)

 

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”― Rumi

 

as I sit with peaceful abandon

far out upon my churlish perch

painting pontifications of intimate expression

in relation with place and time and all,

I have most recently been given good cause to reflect…

 

beneath me now (Cornish earth pigments on canvas; 30x25cm) © p ward 2019

 

not only upon an inherent inability for punctuation (and breath)

or the ability of egg (local and free range to boot),

both yolk and white, with most moist unctuous fluidity

to stick and bind and glaze (with a little vinegar to dilute;

PS1: tempera is not a light batter originating in Japan)

but upon movement and change and responsibility

and power and loss (and hence gain) and intent and motivation

and communication and honesty and truth

and (of course) magic and then stories and pictures and love.

 

the time has come to pick up our arms and dangle our feet

to the tune of an age old heartache – our connection (or lack of)

to life that gives and takes and breathes and yearns to live again.

 

so, thank you to the warriors,

the shouters and dancers,

the artists who care,

the thinkers who dare

to speak their thoughts for all and all and all,

hand in hand with birds and beasts,

with clouds and sea and rain falling in the sunshine fields.

 

I am me and you in you.

It is once more… rebellion!

 

inconsequential wildlife of an aquine persuasion (Cornish earth pigments on board; 40x40cm) © p ward 2019

memories of life after life (Cornish earth pigments on reclaimed wood; 64x18cm) © p ward 2019

heady (Cornish earth pigments on reclaimed board; 30x50cm) © p ward 2019

as loud as a moon – lord and lady muck (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 17x18cm) © p ward 2019

9 cornish earth forms (Cornish earth pigment egg tempera on paper; 48x42cm) © p ward 2019

dichotomous circumstance (Cornish earth pigment egg tempera on reclaimed wood; 45x45x4.5cm) © p ward 2019

walking through time (Cornish earth pigment egg tempera on reclaimed wood; 29x14x4.5cm) © p ward 2019

approaching the ocean; bridleway (on wood); stars and stripes; dark head; track; lake; across the river (Cornish earth pigment egg tempera on paper; various 16x14cm) © p ward 2019

head I (Cornish earth pigment egg tempera on paper; 28x28cm) © p ward 2019

head 2 (Cornish earth pigment egg tempera on paper; 28x28cm) © p ward 2019

oops, upside your head! spring equinox full moon (Cornish earth pigments on reclaimed board; 78x78cm) © p ward 2019

the pigment hunter (Cornish earth pigments on reclaimed board; 87x87cm) © p ward 2019

you are stronger than you think you are – dancing with the goddess (Cornish earth pigments on reclaimed board; 98x90cm) © p ward 2019

consequences of loss I – catering (gaffer tape and glue remnants on repurposed card; 50x25cm) © p ward 2019

consequences of loss II – patellidae (true limpets) (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 36x35cm) © p ward 2019

consequences of loss III – walking with spirit (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 43x28cm) © p ward 2019

earth heads I (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 37x28cm) © p ward 2019

consequences of loss IV – exclusive (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 25x27cm) © p ward 2019

consequences of loss V – holding on too (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 36x44cm) © p ward 2019

earth shield (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 52x17cm) © p ward 2019

riding fox-back in the cloud of cuckoo-land before the almighty deluge begins… (Cornish earth pigments on repurposed card; 55x47cm) © p ward 2019

PS2:

this is not an intellectual activity,

doomed to a critical aloof

or heady reevaluation in words alone,

it is body and blood

co-mingling

conjoined

codependent

striving for and in

action

to survive

 

© P Ward 2019

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no light no colour no more

further material responses to existential emergence, crisis and change

I was reminded recently, while gazing fleetingly into the shimmering turquoise green blue ocean here in West Cornwall, of my early art training based in the classical understanding of colour. colour as light. a systematic mixing together of homogenous materials to represent the colours that we observe in Nature from a set of ‘primaries’: reds, blues and yellows. no black. white in moderation. of hue.

iron board, Praa Sands, Cornwall (Cornish earth pigments on rock) © p ward 2019

our perception of colour, of light and shade, and hence of depth, size, form and materiality, is sometimes explained as the processing and communication of visual information created by the reflection, refraction and absorption of light in relation to materials. working with earth pigments has revealed ‘colour’ as more than just a visual ‘scientific’ process of perception. it is more a holistic appreciation of material presence which encompasses not just colour but texture, smell and a provenance of time and place, of formation and decay, of ecology, history and Nature itself.

we may often associate earth colours with a range of browns, reds and yellows. with this latest set of paintings I have been enjoying a more subtle selection of greys, greens, mauves and whites that I have found, gathered and mixed near my home.

I could say that the stories they tell are unique expressions of their own experience that I have been privileged to bring into contemporary form, but maybe that is for you to decide…

aspects of landscape and love – today it snowed (Cornish earth pigments on board; 51x51cm) © p ward 2019

the beautiful things that people say when they are together (Cornish earth pigments on board; 25x25cm) © p ward 2019

facing up to facing up to (Cornish earth pigments on board; 31x33cm) © p ward 2019

rearranging the furniture (Cornish earth pigments on board; 35x35cm) © p ward 2019

like chopping onions in a northwesterly gale (Cornish earth pigments on board; 56x38cm) © p ward 2019stones that stand in fields with swans and cows and geese: penwith (Cornish earth pigments on board; 70x68cm) © p ward 2019

simple communication here (Cornish earth pigments on card; 61x51cm) © p ward 2019

house of power (Cornish earth pigments on canvas; 40x50cm) © p ward 2019

nondescript (Cornish earth pigments on board; 27x26cm) © p ward 2019

turning a new leaf with foxes on my mind (Cornish earth pigments on canvas; 61x51cm) © p ward 2019

© P Ward 2019


painting within limits

new paintings from Cornwall – early 2019

 

For many years I have exclusively used colours from the earth in my paintings, gathering and processing all the pigments myself. Each location offers a unique palette and quality of colour to work with as well as a deeper understanding of that place.

To some it may seem as if creativity is being limited. “How can I paint the sky or the trees?” are frequent questions when running workshops. Working with earth pigments has changed the way I work and my understanding of painting in many ways. It has enriched my perception of colour and the ‘material’ of colour. Black is no longer “an absence of light”. For me it allows a specific expression of place orientated, of course, by my own relationship to being there.

The paintings here respond to the nature of earth colours and experiences in West Cornwall…

 

distance what we have become (Cornish earth pigments on canvas; 60x40cm) © p ward 2019

big red wolf moon that I did not see (Cornish earth pigments on board; 76x28cm) © p ward 2019

to run aground an island (Cornish earth pigments on card; 27x15cm) © p ward 2019

estuary (Cornish earth pigments on wood; 20×14.5x2cm) © p ward 2019

untitled I, II, III (Cornish earth pigments on board; 25x26cm; 25x28cm; 25x26cm) © p ward 2019

offcuts homestead (Cornish earth pigments on wood; 29x24x3cm) © p ward 2019

at fault (Cornish earth pigments on board; 80x26cm) © p ward 2019

fairy queen (Cornish earth pigments on canvas; 25x30cm) © p ward 2019

 

© P Ward 2019


living within limits – an affirmation

(Thanks to Mat for a good conversation about politics, age and forward thinking)

 

while the universe may be perceived as infinite,

as our imagination does allow,

this world (upon which our existence depends) is not.

 

there is life

and there is death.

beginnings and ends.

 

throughout our history, especially in certain cultural geographies,

there has been a gradual shift towards arrogance as our understanding has increased.

with our own permission, in the names of progress, evolution and survival,

we have plundered, transferred and transformed the dynamic integrity of earth.

 

yet for us, as humans, omnipotence is not a possibility.

and while we may have broken it

and know how and why

we are not capable of mending it

beyond abstaining from activities and attitudes

that may perpetuate such demise and hopefully promote a self-sustaining recovery of sorts.

the universe is quite simply too vast, too diverse for us to knowingly manipulate or predict.

 

although we may want more,

whether that is peace or possessions or power,

there is little more to be had.

there is already more than enough.

we are simply regurgitating past revelations in a different guise,

re-appropriating wisdom again for our own selfish ends.

 

to be grateful

to be thankful

to appreciate what there is and what we have

to strive for less

to recognize our own limitations

and to live within them

while not profitable or fashionable

may provide and define a feasible space for creativity, for resourcefulness, for compassion and for joy…

 

but then, who am I to say?

 

trellisick trees; cot valley, cornwall © p ward 2018

levant mine, cornwall © p ward 2018

© P Ward 2019


Pet Portraits with Earth Pigments

I was recently asked to paint some dog portraits for friends and family – something a bit different. It was a good reminder of my own skills as an illustrator and draftsman and an affirmation of the suitability of the pigments for a series of wildlife images I hope to produce sometime soon. I used a combination of Cornish and North Devon earth pigments for the paintings and really enjoyed the results…

Maggy (earth pigments on canvas; 25x30cm) © p ward 2018

Pearl (earth pigments on board; 28x28cm) © p ward 2018

Holly (earth pigments on board; 28x28cm) © p ward 2108

(source photos for dog portraits, courtesy of owners)

© P Ward 2019


ode to winter

Penwith 2019

 

In darkness, I think of you

And in my thoughts

I cover you with flowers,

A multitude of colours, shapes and scents,

And remove them one by one

To reveal you anew

In beauty and in wonder.

 

May your world be full of light and joy,

Inspiration, warmth and love

porthmeor farm, penwith © p ward 2019

peregrine; zennor church; godolphin house, cornwall © p ward 2018

© P Ward 2019


Painting with Earth – Cornwall: new home, new works

November 2018

despite the wind

despite the weather

despite the winter

despite the sense of vulnerability

this raw and new found exposure

despite the twisting and turmoil of our times

despite love

and loss

despite it all

this earth still shines

Before I embark on a new phase of experimentation, combining different binders with the Cornish pigments, I would like to share a few paintings that I have made in my new home – a caravan on a dairy farm in the coastal hills of west Penwith, Cornwall.

West Penwith, Cornwall – Morvah, Sennen Cove, Cot Valley and Chun Quoit © p ward 2018

Here, I am surrounded by the historic land markings of the ancient peoples who populated this extremity of the British Isles. Stone walls, reportedly demarcating some of the oldest working field networks in the world, built 5000 years ago. Iron age hill forts, burial mounds, settlements and wells set in the denuded coastal wasteland of heath and moor. It is at times bleak. After the rain and wind that lashes fresh from the vast Atlantic ocean, the colours of autumn shine. The constantly changing hues of the blue and grey and turquoise sea. Rainbows sitting in our laps. The sky heavy and clear and dark and brooding. Salt water permeating. The animals are exposed by their hunt for food, by the lack of cover afforded by the stripped land. It is a place of spirit and history and life, right now.

Penwith dream forms (Botallack black on paper); fogou (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

mineral, vegetable; mist (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

dance on the shore (Cornish earth pigments on canvas) © p ward 2018

virtually vertical; community (Cornish earth pigments on wood); earth bound (Cornish earth pigments on canvas) © p ward 2018

pigment drift (Cornish earth pigments on slate) © p ward 2018

I am slowly learning to listen to the language of the colours here. The earth pigments, their qualities, their sources are unfamiliar. New to me. They are similar in colour to those of North Devon, that I have been using for a long time but very different in other ways. Their formation. Their nature. They have not been part of my own story, until now. The marks and stories they suggest are gradually revealing themselves. Their relationships unfolding. Their dynamic. And despite my attempts at integrity to their provenance and the spirit of this place in which I find myself, it is the freedom of my children’s paintings and drawings that are inspiring me…

noah, agnes, noah, agnes (pastel and paint on paper) 2018

two heads (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

eventual remediation (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

looking for love (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

Cornish Folk Tale I (Cornish earth pigments on wood) © p ward 2018

Professionally, I am working on an Arts Council National Lottery Project Fund proposal in association with Geevor Tin Mine to research the creative and educational potential of the pigments. Through recent projects and contact with the staff at the Mine I have started to appreciate and become really excited by the rich historical, geological, chemical and social provenance that the colours carry. After the far-reaching and ongoing success that Painting with Earth – North Devon has brought, let’s hope I will get some real financial support to enable the continuation of this rich seam of work ;-).

© P Ward 2018