Monday, April 26, 2010

from Awilson to Angus

When I moved back to America I brought with me a significant amount of art I'd created in Scotland, some are still around and I thought it would be nice to share it on the blog, since it's interesting to compare changes with this work and more recent paintings.

(NOTE: all the painting featured on this post are from my period in Scotland)

arrangement with tray

An artist never stops learning, they're always 'moving forward', always developing, always honing their skill (even though at times it may not feel that way).

However, I was recently reminded that at times an event or a circumstance can dramatic change an artists work, and from that moment on the artists work is noticeably never the same again. There are many great examples in history of dramatic changes to famous artists, but since this blogs about my work I'm not going to write about them!

vegetables with lilies & white pears

Looking back I realize there was a fairly significant change to my work about 3 years ago when I moved from Scotland back to California. There were a couple of quick and obvious changes -

  • I went from 'AWilson' to 'Angus'. In Scotland I'd always signed my work 'AWilson' moving continent and effectively starting from scratch gave me the benefit of going for my first name, a more memorable 'Angus' replacing the boring commonplace surname of Wilson.
  • Everything's Bigger in America. Most Scottish galleries and homes have smaller rooms, thus the demand was for smaller work. My move meant get bigger!
canes and table & Winter sun

There were also some more subtle changes that happened gradually perhaps over the first 6 months or so of living in California -

  • The paintings became less tonal, using a wider range of colors. The colors also often became more saturated, more dramatic.
  • Composition groupings changed, I think for the most part these grouping became more conventional and traditional. Often simpler in their arrangements.
  • Perspectives I think also became more conventional; in Scotland I had enjoyed painting a lot of compositions from a higher view point looking down onto the table. These viewing angles for the most part got replaced by a more traditional 'classical' still life perspectives.

Lanterns with easel and orange drape & apricots in a bowl

Viewing paintings from both time periods I think there's something to enjoy in each, indeed I find many people respond to the new, but others like the palettes and compositions in the earlier works. So, the big question in this blog entry, do these changes amount to a dramatic change in my work, or just another chapter of growth and change, I suppose only time and history will tell?

Stripped cloth

Saturday, April 17, 2010


It's commonly said that one of the biggest mistakes and artist can make as he completes a painting, is to 'fiddle' or 'fuss' with a painting. 90% of the time I'd say this is pretty accurate; it's rare that the repainting or painting-over of an element within a painting can ever recapture the vigor and essence of the original. (Though we all do it sometimes and regret not leaving it alone in the 1st place!)

But a fear of 'fiddling' shouldn't be confused with 'reworking'. Okay granted for the most part I'm quibbling about semantics. But if there's a clear difference in the process or even the thinking of the artist, then this can often be a successful and necessary part of the process.

On occassion when I take a painting to completion, I realize I still need it to sit for a while. Whether it be hours, days, weeks or months, this settling time for a painting can sometimes generate change and in most cases these carefully considered changes are for the better.
This is an example of a painting that had long periods of 'resting'. Though signed, I never felt it finished, while I continued to change colors in the table cloth, fruit and Lilies. I think it's fair to say I 'struggled' with resolving this painting, but when I finally found the right colors I new it was truly finished and was able to walk away happy, with the achievement.

The painting above I realized needed a little adjusting I was never happy with the cool hues contrasting with the strong colors on the table and table elements. I need time to digest this and think about what colors might have made a better painting, before I was able to rework it with some warmer hues.


I was in truth always pretty happy with this painting, but I still found myself adjusting it many weeks later. I made a lot of subtle changes to the cloth, all I felt for the better, and the color change on the pot, helped to further tie the painting together.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bigger is better?...

Unconsciously near the end of last year many of my paintings had been getting smaller, I realized I wanted to tackle something bigger, so I chose to work on a 48X72 painting. Jokingly codenamed BIG BERTHA (not meant to be sexist, most of my paintings are probably female... though I admit, perhaps I am being sizeist).

Early beginnings

It has been the my largest painting in a number of years and it's literally just finished. I really enjoyed myself working in this scale. For convenience I painted in my garage, since I wasn't confident I could get the painting through some of the bends in my house to get to my studio. I also thought the garage would be a good location to store the painting as it dries.

The light wasn't too bad painting in this location, there was good indirect light from the main doors and in the evening I used a couple of 'construction work' type halogen lights.

Working at night

Because I usually paint on wood panel when I began working on a canvas of this size I really noticed the canvass bounce, especially working in the center of the painting (it was quite exciting).

When I initially planned and began work on the painting it felt like a really large canvas, but as I worked on it I suppose I soon got used to that scale. I even found myself thinking - next time, perhaps I should paint even bigger?

more shots of painting progress...

There can be a nice physicality to working in this scale having to move across the whole painting and mixing much larger quantities of paint. Additionally of course it also provides a wonderfully dramatic final work. Scale can really create an impact!

The final painting.
Titled 'Tulips and fruit with Denby jug on blue'.

Primarily Acrylic on Canvas, but with a few light oil glaze washes in certain areas, to give greater color depth and subtly. Work is yet unvarnished, but I will ultimately varnish with a semi gloss finish, that should give it increased richness and luster.

More details

Me holding it wonky....