Category Archives: Process

I left a good idea at home but found another at the studio

#Letter365 No323 goes in the box
No353 gets posted on a rainy day

I was kicking myself when I got to the studio as the idea I had for today involved something that I had to prepare at home. Fortunately I am not short of creative ideas and one just jumped on me when I got to the studio. In hindsight it may not have been the best idea as it took much longer than I thought, and I had other things I needed to get on with there so I was out far longer than planned. All worth it in the end I hope.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

#Letter365 No350 goes in the post
No350 gets posted in the rain

I used initial caps for the headline and didn’t use the hyphen I feel it should have in order to reference the social realist film with Tom Courtney. I was thinking how long-distance runners must sometimes be running on will power alone in the last stages of the race. They are often out there alone for a long time and have to muster every once of strength for that last stretch. The last few miles before entering the stadium are the lowest and loneliest I would guess.  I was thinking that because I am now tired of this. There is so much to do for the installation and all that surrounds it (and I have other things I need to work on so I can use the momentum to move on to other things afterwards) and I have completely run out of energy. If only I was really burning fat instead of getting fat! It is mostly an act of will that keeps me going. It almost feels as if I should give up before the end. What artistic statement would that make? The long-distance runner collapses just short of the line!

Anyway I was thinking these things and obviously the film came to mind. In a way it is about the same things as my work. The Tom Courtney character is a rebellious young man and the Prison Governor (or is it a borstal or reform school?) tries to instil discipline through a repetitive action (running) but underestimates the power of the chaotic and disruptive forces that flow through the young man.

What it’s all about

Mystery Evolves (detail) - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves (detail)
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm

In my earlier post today I mentioned my abiding interest the interplay between order and chaos and how a stream of my work is made up of many repetitive actions interrupted and disturbed by random chaotic influences. This piece, Mystery Evolves, which I completed a few days ago, is an example of just such a “field” drawing.  And while this piece will not be exhibited in my #Letter365 show at Bridport Arts Centre it is relevant to both the project and the installation. The year-long project has been a repetitive action – the daily creation of an artwork and its dispatch to the Arts Centre – which has been affected by unruly elements sometimes beyond my control. The installation will be an ordered arrangement of the envelopes interrupted by the opening and display of the contents – and who knows what else.

I will be exhibiting some of field drawings and tidelines pieces with the #Letter365 pieces to help place it into a broader context of my current work.

Mystery Evolves (detail) - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves (detail)
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm
Mystery Evolves (detail) - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves (detail)
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm
Mystery Evolves - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm

I might just do the same thing for the rest of the days!

#Letter365 No347 gets posted
No347 goes in the box

I was doing #Collage365 – a collage a day for a year – before this project, but the projects overlapped by 18 days. That means today marks 700 days on the trot on which I have created an artwork due to my self-imposed commitments. I have not had a day off for 700 days!

Anyway, earlier this evening I was saying to Sally, my partner, that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for today’s piece. Then jokingly I said, “perhaps I’ll do the same as yesterday.” It’s not such a bad idea, especially since in the last 4 days I will be very busy installing the show! It would be good to settle on an idea and just do a new version of it every day – or not!


It’s hard not to be influenced

#Letter365 No344 goes in the postbox
No344 gets posted

I try to forget about the purchaser if a piece has been sold before I do the work. There is the temptation to try to do what I think the person may like and the fear they wont like it: thoughts that are not conducive to producing good, original work. Today’s piece is on a day I well know whose it is and so I made the envelope last night to try to cut out all thoughts and reminders, but just as I went off to the studio I remembered! As it turns out I am playing with a number of themes general and so was able to switch into that stream of work and concentrate – though I had to work on something else unrelated for a while to build up speed. When I had finished and happy I then thought the buyers will probably like that and I sort of went in to a mini panic and I thought of starting again to change a tiny little thing in some misplaced effort to please. Then I realised my “improvement” was actually something that made it less subtle – then I knew I was right not to change anything!

Sometimes I have a good idea

#Letter365 No342 gets posted
No342 goes in the box

So I have this good idea of what to do for the day’s artwork and I prepare for it and gather together what i need to make it and just as I begin I think “but what if i just….?” and then something else goes “Get out of the way and let me do this!” and I start getting scared because I have done that preparatory work and this other mad being that has possessed me might mess it all up and I’ll have to start again. On the other hand it seems to be going well. Ooh that looks good. Ah OK you were right. And then I find that I have a piece of work that looks like it is mine; that sits within the scope of work that I am currently experimenting with, yet moves it on in a new direction; and the best thing is it caused me no great effort. I am reminded of the story of “Mr Horrox and the Gratch” by James Reeves with wonderful drawings by Quentin Blake.

For clarity and directness

#Letter365 No340 gets posted
No340 goes in the box

I have been looking at the catalogue to the recent Miró show and I confess that certain things influenced my starting place for #Letter365 and in one way wish I hadn’t. I have been working on other aspects of getting this #Letter365 show on the road (and taking time out for a massage – much needed!) so I had left the creation of the artwork till quite late and it ended up taking much longer than I wished. It is a return to a theme I worked on a while ago and I am thinking I may do a lot more on once I have got this project out of the way,

Two #Letter365 postings today

Postage due payment card goes in the box
Postage due payment card goes in the box

“How can that be” you say, “two #Letter365 postings on one day?” Well as you can see from the image above it was me that had to cough up for the fact I forgot the stamp the other day. Of course, when presented with the Post Office card, I couldn’t just nip round to the sorting office and pick it up as I’m not supposed to touch it again till we install the show. So I had to get the stamps and send off the card to get the piece delivered. Later in the day I popped No337 in the same post box.

#Letter365 No337 goes in the post
No337 gets posted

Now the thing about No337 is I found it difficult at first to appraise its quality. I had been busy all day and just come from a meeting with Laura and Megan at Arts Centre planning the installation and though I had the idea quite quickly, my head was in a different space. It took me a while to move from the administrative state I was in and reconnect with my art life. I suppose you could say I should have trusted my instinct whatever state I was in – and I am very pleased with the result – but I had to be sure. It was worthwhile to have to find a way to switch states quickly so I now have some useful techniques at my command.