What I’m not

I’m often asked what kind of art I make. I know my face clouds over when the question comes, because the answer isn’t simple. Easier, perhaps, to say what I’m not.

I’m not a landscape or a still-life artist …

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… though earlier in my career I painted both.

I’m not a portrait painter and never have been, though everyone tells me they recognise Peter in my drawing and paintings.

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I’m not an abstract painter, though I love abstraction.

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My painting doesn’t aspire to realism, but rather to inner truth.

I’m not an illustrator though I make covers for novels and poetry.

Recently I’ve made my first picture book, though it’s not a children’s picture book.

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I’m not a print-maker, though I’m currently making a fourteen print series of screenprints with Dan Bugg of Penfold Press on the theme of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. (Based on the translation by Simon Armitage.)

Penfold C cmyk-2While I’m an atheist, my work often explores biblical and faith based themes.

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I’m not an animator, though I made the animations for the 2013 stage production of The Mare’s Tale (composer Mark Bowden and librettist Damian Walford Davies)…

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… I was commissioned to make an animated film to accompany a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale at the 2013 Hay Festival…

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…. and last year in collaboration with artist/model-maker Phil Cooper, film-maker Pete Telfer and composer Kate Romano, I created an animation as the online trailer for my picture book Hansel & Gretel. (Published by Random Spectacular.)

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Sometimes it’s not possible to make a simple answer.

 

 

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the artist’s sketches and what they led to

Not all of the drawings from yesterdays post came to anything. Some, like the drawings made in the ‘Paris’ sketchbook, were just ways to gather information and help me better understand what I was looking at. (There’s nothing like drawing to help get inside an artwork. I recommend putting the camera away and taking out the notebook and pencil.) But many of the sketchbooks were working toward projects, whether paintings or books, and so here are a few of of the outcomes from images begun in them.

Project Book: EQUUS

The sketchbook was preliminary to work on the illustrated edition of Peter Shaffer’s play Equus. (The Old Stile Press, 2009.) The drawing on the right prepared the way for the following study…

… and then the frontispiece of the finished book.

The portrait of troubled Alan Strang as shown in the initial drawing here, went through multiple incarnations before making it into the book, though the same basic ideas held throughout. Here’s one of the finished illustrations.

Project Book: CARN EUNY

The Carn Euny sketchbook had a massive influence on the paintings that came after it. The one below, a still-life with a Staffordshire ‘Girl and Dog’, recognisably references both landscape drawings of the page-spread.

Project Book: THE SOLDIER’S TALE

The Soldier’s Tale project book prepared the way for two forays into the theme, the first of which was a 2012 concert performance of the work in Washington DC.

MONTCLAR (CATALONIA) SKETCHBOOK

This drawing of the village of Montclar in Catalunya, was made specifically to take back to the studio to use as background reference for the painting Christ Writes in the Dust, a commission from the Methodist Collection of Modern British Art.

GENERAL SKETCHBOOK

The goat and ‘fish lamp’ in the drawings above, are of terracotta pieces I made in the pottery workshop of Pip Koppel. The ceramics have since frequently made appearances in my still-life paintings.

The drawing of a still-life in front of a seascape is one of a group that led to a series of paintings on the theme. The pelican ceramic is by the artist John Maltby.

Project Book: THE BOOK OF TRICKS

The schematic sketches of vessels in this project book, were realised in later still-life paintings. Here’s just one of them.

Project Book: CLIVE’S BOOK OF PUPPETS

The character studies for Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale shown in this page-spread of the puppet sketchbook, were developed into portrait images of Joseph and the Princess used in the animated film I made to accompany the chamber-work, screened at the the 2013 Hay Festival.

GENERAL SKETCHBOOK

The frottage drawings in the above sketchbook were ideas toward the cover of a brochure celebrating fifty years of  a youth theatre I’d once been a member of.

last minute title change

Completed on day five in the studio

Joseph and the Flying Bouquet

Acrylic and sgrafitto on gessoed panel. 80 x 80 cm. 2014

Soldier Joseph is hurrying, carrying flowers to the Princess who he’s rescued from a curse of sleep. (Or perhaps she was just a lazy stay-a-bed, pretending.) Love has loaned wings to his heels, but he’s tripped and sent sunflowers and tulips flying through the air. The Princess, alas, is not to be trusted, and our hero will be led into peril by her. Oh dear. And he looks so happy, here.

See all the stages of the painting from start to finish, HERE

‘Joseph and the Sunflowers’

Day one of a new work on my easel

Joseph and the Sunflowers

Pencil underdrawing and acrylic on gessoed panel. 80 x 80 cm. 2014

Joseph and the Sunflowers is currently in progress in my studio. When finished it will join the series of new paintings that have drawn on the animated film of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale I made for the 2013 Hay Festival.

Shaping the hearts of sunflowers with sgrafitto

Below: maquettes of Joseph used for the animated film, and currently serving as models for the paintings

Paintings on the theme of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, soon to be seen in:

Telling Tales: new works by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Oriel Tegfryn/Tegfryn Gallery

Menai Bridge

Opening May 10th

The Covetous Devil

Flight

Flock

Going Home

Blue Fall

The Tulip Garden

Joseph Dreams of Home

Soldier Joseph

Above: King

Telling Tales

Telling Tales: new narrative works by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Oriel Tegfryn
Menai Bridge
Anglesey
Opening May 10th 2014

Clive Hicks-Jenkins explores a narrative tradition of painting, particularly in relation to the Welsh mumming custom of the Mari Lwyd, and in his examinations of stories with miraculous events at their hearts. His Mari Lwyd drawing, Stumbles and Cannot Rise, is in the National Museum of Wales, his re-imagining of the annunciation, The Virgin of the Goldfinches, hangs permanently in the Saint Dyfrig Chapel of Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, and his painting, Christ Writes in the Dust, was commissioned for the Methodist Collection of Twentieth Century Art, held at Oxford Brookes University. For a decade he’s regularly produced works on the legendary themes of the blind Breton monk, Hervé, who had a wolf for a companion, and the Irish hermit, Kevin. Kevin held a nest in his outstretched hand while a blackbird laid and incubated her eggs in it, hatched them and reared her young until fledged, a legend recounted by Seamus Heaney in a poem the artist has long referenced in his paintings on the subject.

For Telling Tales: Clive Hicks-Jenkins at Oriel Tegfryn, the artist has made new works of Hervé and Kevin, and has been revisiting his Mari Lwyd theme. In 2012 Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra commissioned composer Mark Bowden and Aberystwyth-born poet Damian Walford Davies, to make a chamber-work with a spoken libretto, taking inspiration from the artist’s 2001 series of large black and white Mari Lwyd drawings known collectively as The Mare’s Tale. Last year Clive Hicks-Jenkins designed and directed the first Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra performance of The Mare’s Tale, and at Oriel Tegfryn will be showing paintings he’s subsequently produced, inspired by its music and libretto.
The artist’s most recent series is inspired by Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, in which Joseph the soldier unwittingly makes a pact he’ll come to regret. Last year Clive Hicks-Jenkins was commissioned to make an animated-film to accompany a performance of The Soldier’s Tale at the Hay Festival, and his new paintings further exploring the story are at the heart of the Oriel Tegfryn exhibition.
See some of the work that will be in the exhibition, HERE