‘Drift’: from start to finish


Acrylic, gouache and oil-based pencil on board. 59 x 84 cms

Preparatory sketch


Details of underdrawing

The painting begins


Acrylic, gouache and oil-based pencil on board. 59 x 84 cms

20 thoughts on “‘Drift’: from start to finish

  1. I love the way you have achieved the power and size of a horse, I feel as though I am very small looking up at the head. Jordan literally appears to drift; the violet glove against the blue is an inspiration , and the whole painting is so luminous…

  2. One more thing,and I promise to shut up : ( at least, for a little while )
    I don’t know whether any of you knows anything about Autism, or about Asperger’s Syndrome. I just wanted to say that for children and adolescents afflicted by one of them, even in it’s severe form, horses have a magic power.
    Fot those youngsters, and even in the case of adults, horses are beneficial forces, like the horse in these last images, not menacing like the horse in ” The Mari” paintings and drawings.
    There are lots and lots of places explaining it all, like this one:

    And I know this series would be loved by anyone included in the “Asperger Umbrella” ( I am not sure you say it like that in English, I have translated ” El Paraguas del Asperger” literally fron the Spanish . Sorry )

    • As far as I know I am not on the Asperger’s spectrum, though I do have a complicated relationship with composition and negative space. When I’m drawing or painting and get confronted with negative space that is unsatisfactory to me, I have feelings of nausea that become worse unless I modify what I’ve produced. I obsessively work at the shapes until I bring them to a place where the nausea ceases.

      Negative space is always the more significant for me than positive, and I will change positive outlines to the point where they no longer make visual sense, for the sake of harmonious negative forms. This is why I work with maquettes. With them, I can force animal and human shapes to fit with the compositional forms that enable me to breathe easily again. It’s weird, and unrelenting. No-one has been able to explain it to me. I experience it with other artists too, though I’ve learned to zone out when visiting galleries, and to turn away from the paintings that affect me most badly.

  3. From ‘comments sublime’ to mine.

    As, long years ago, the front end of the all dancing Dobbin, this steed I would be pleased to inhabit.

    I wonder why my pantomime horse sprang to mind? Something about the dream like quality of the piece? As ever I am ravished by the ‘colours man.’

    Love as ever and always, dancing off to ‘nothing is as lovely as a horse shoe shuffle.’
    B xxx

  4. What a mysterious new image! I am loving reading everyone’s comments and feeding my thoughts for the “Drift” poem. Many things to ponder as our fellow travelers have already observed – why “Drift”? And so many transformations: the reappearance of the scarf; the reappearance of the one glove and in a purple hue; not only the complete transference of the tulips to the Mari, but also the right arm back in the jacket and the left arm bare; blue seeming to infuse even the scarf and hair more and more; the spots on the horse’s body and the Mari’s now blue color as the tulips have emerged out its red body revealing its blue undercoat; and the severely diminishing head of the Mari (what to make of that?). Whereas in “Flowering Skin” Jordan seems to challenge the Mari, here he seems somewhat sad – certainly drifting and dreamlike. You have challenged us all with this image – as stealthfully as you challenge yourself. We’re off to our mountain cabin on Monday until Wednesday, a day of opera tomorrow, and a friend’s wedding and dinner with out of town guests on Sunday, so it may be Monday in the mountain’s new green that I will find the poem.

  5. The red flowers are lovely, but as I have never seen parrot tulips live, they remind me more of poppies, the kind that help one sleep… The horse is a spiritual and gentle protector, And Jordan is Jordan…

    For me, it is the one violet glove, gleaming near the horse’s rump like a fan with it’s own enigmatic and secret language, which holds the key to the whole painting, telling me story after story, depending of how I look at it.

    I love it.

    Thank You very much, Clive, for showing the gradual changes, and thanks to Sarah, and Marly, and Janet, for their thoughts about it all.

  6. I love the shape of this horse and the way she fills the space in this composition. Peaceful and contented. The title Drift suggests to me a floating silently in space, in a vacuum, like a dream. Now the horse is completely patterned, and a glove is off, as if some transference has taken place.

  7. Took me a while to read your and Sarah’s recent posts, as I waited till the Bad Eye was better. All interesting material, of course.

    Still pondering how different this mythic creature is from the horses in the Mari Lwyd series in your retrospective… And how it is influenced by the patterns you’ve painted on skin in between. And how the red ribbony harness becomes a stem with leaves and flowers–it is good for harsh things to become foliate.

    I like the negative space–you are a prince of negative space!

    The way you have the old death-Mari and the new burgeoning Mari linked here and elsewhere is interesting. I like the winding cloth effect from the scarf, and how the clothing makes a frame for the body, rather like a not yet fastened shroud. But at the very same time, a jacket is also a seed covering that breaks open for rebirth, and the scarf here goes up like tendrils, pale and new, and the Mari body that was once the body of death has flowered. It reminds me of the biblical idea that the kernel that dies brings forth many new seeds…

  8. You have me digging into mythology again, Clive. This time it’s Norse!

    The “Drift” version of the Mari reminds me of the Swedish Dala horses, each painted individually, so the artist can be recognised by the pattern he makes. You are definitely making parrot tulips your own identifiable mark as this series of paintings progresses. (-:

    The Dala Horses are said to originate from Odin’s horse, Sleipnir, foal of Loki. Odin could travel over land, sea, and air on his horse and it is said that it was “the typical steed of the shaman” and can “mediate between earth and sky… between the world of mortal men and the underworld.” Sleipnir does look as though he would be perfectly at home in the world inhabited by Jordan and the Mari!

    I love Dala horses and have one in my own collection and I could see your “Drift” horse looking amazing in 3D form as well.

    I also think you have captured Jordan beautifully in this piece of work.


    • I’m now wondering if the Mari of “Drift” could have pre-historic origins? I reference the cave paintings of horses at Lascaux in France:

      The Mari is on a trip through time, at least in my own imagination!

    • Thank you, Sarah. You know I am a man of many mythologies, thanks to the weighty Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology that my parents gave to me one long ago Christmas. I have it still. It opened doorways that fuelled a lifetime of exploration. t’s been published many times since, and the illustrations have been supplemented. But I love my old copy, and would never replace it.

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