Thursday, 25 December 2014

White Form (Mixed media on canvas, 25cmx20cm 2014)

The link between intent and the paint itself is one I find perpetually intriguing. We want to show something and in the case of painting the staging is to a high degree predetermined. There is a person, a surface and paints that should leave some sort of sign on said surface in accordance to the actions of the person working. When finished, we have a point of congealed presence that can be read, contemplated and probed for intellectual and/or emotional content as we see fit. Like a furnished room we get a feeling for upon entering it, we enter a painting and see where the 'things have been put' and indeed what the 'things' themselves are. Is it a tidy or messy room? Spacious? Cramped? Traditionally decorated? Or is it a empty waiting room for some unknown appointment? Does the room fill us with a comfortable feeling of homeliness or is it a harsh stop gap in some urban dystopia or indeed anything in between? A painting is always viewed in some context, none more important than the context of the paintings the viewer has previously experienced. A different context is the body of work the artist in question has produced. Each work is a pin on their map of places visited as it were and following their thusly plotted course hopefully weaves an intelligible pattern that can be read just like the individual work may be read. This small piece of mine was a work between works, just a levity and an angle on form and flat colour applied to a differently finished background.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

White on Greens, (Acrylic on wood board, 34cmx46cm Sept 2013)

Some things are just not meant to be. Like in the case between me and greens, for instance. Once my favourite colour of all, now my association with it is securely cemented in the past. I happened to create this little piece in between other works and it just stayed there, in my mind and showed me a new direction to take. Hastily thrown together, more because I wanted to work on wood than for any other reason. Wood is durable, flexible and this particular piece held an alluringly reddish glow. Red wants green to stay civil, so I looked for a balancing counter measure, so green it was. Since this piece came about, I have had several opportunities to converse with green, conversations that has uniformly failed. Of all the colours, green is the one with the strongest associational baggage, ie Nature, Grass, Leaves and all that. Thus it's a struggle to overpower this its legacy of reflecting the natural world around us. I nevertheless view this piece fondly as a point of departure. A departure into the future. Beside its colour one other aspect of this work remains important to me, namely the role of distinction and resolution of parts in a work. By rejecting detail and centralized objects a whole new vista of colour and proportionality emerged. Most of my works that followed this unassuming little painting has kept dealing with the very same issues it raised; the presence of specific colours and how proportion gives a narrative to an otherwise inactive surface.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Yellow, Black and White Painting (Mixed media on canvas 40cmx40cm) Oct, 2014

The act of painting, to add paint to the surface according to an idea or notion becomes more interesting to me the more I see of other artist's work. Always highly critical of what I encounter "out there", I find that this critical eye follows me into my own studio once it's my turn to paint.
Beside the individual stance a work takes, which I wrote about in an earlier post, the individual motivation driving the artist is of consuming interest to me. I never let the impossibility of verbalizing what essentially is a visual practice stop me from asking myself questions such as;

1. Why did they paint that?
2. What feeling/stance/message/presence did they aim for?
3. What did they want to achieve, generally and specifically?
4. Who did they paint it for?
5. Where did they see their painting in the future?
6. What does the artist feel their work consists of?
7. How much is created for visual effect?
8. How much is formal investigation?
9. If they feel they 'investigate' anything, then what is this 'something'?
10. And if they are of investigative nature, why indeed are they investigating?
11. Why is this person painting at all?
12. Is the artist trying to show something and if this case what and also if so, why?
13. To which of the dizzying array of  historical traditions do the artist link their work, and why?
14. Where do they want their painting to lead them?
15. How has previous success or failure informed their painting in the present?
16. Are they available for comment, are they comfortable talking about their work?
17. Are they up for critical discussion on the merit of their work, their chosen process and indeed constructive criticism?
18. What have they included on the surface, what have they omitted and why?
19. What material are they using and why?
20. Is their work planned or improvised?
21. What is 'planning' or 'improvisation' for the artist in question?
22. To how high degree does the individual artist opt for the recurring response pertaining to 'intuition', 'inspiration' or 'feeling'?
23. Do they find themselves in a dark room where they frantically wave canvas, brushes and cloths around them in a continuous attempt to find the light switch?
24. Or do they calmly deposit another piece to neatly fit into a larger mosaic to illuminate their idea on the particular topic of their choice?
25. How much of their work is about Themself/The World/The Material?
26. Or indeed, is it all of the above combined into one, unassailable melting pot of idea/memory/material?
27. To which percentage does each individual artist think their work can be talked about, described or discussed?
28. Does the artist work closely together with other artists or mainly solitarily?
29. Has the artist's practice/style/general outlook gone through significant development?
30. What type of criticism does the artist most often encounter regarding their painting?

As much as I enjoy the visual impression any painting gives me, I feel knowing something about the artist behind it helps me in my appreciation of said work. The artist uses his individual character to inform his work. If I see a work without knowing anything of its creator I will unfailingly fill in the 'blanks' with previously acquired knowledge or simply my own intuition. What I then see and how I interpret this work will be still be informed, just not from anything its creator has offered apart from the work itself, and in my opinion this is a less satisfying state of affairs.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Three, Four (Mixed media on canvas 80cmx100cm) July, 2014

The stance a work takes interests me. We're faced with a bewildering array of choice when we have the blank canvas before us and the process of settling on the stance is perhaps the one I pay the most significance. A work can show something, tell us something, perform for us as would a street juggler or try to seduce our sensibilities through the use of various lyrical stratagems. It can aim at reminding us of something, make us aware of the niceties with human perception through an arrangement of visual stimuli or indeed shock, frighten or make us smile, all depending on what the intention of the artist is at the time of the execution of the work. Quite like in everyday life where we take a stance amongst our fellow humans, every work on show everywhere has a stance assigned to it. The promise of unlimited possibilities in communicating ideas or impulse, although a seductive one, carries certain problems with it. What can be shared with others by the adding of paint to a flat surface? How true, or to use a less absolute term, how clearly can a stance be shown? This is what I find gives a work its backbone, its resistance or indeed its strength.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Around the World Creative Blog Hop Post!

I have been nominated by a fellow artist, Francisco Alonzo  ( to take part in this project, called "Around the World Creative Blog Hop", no less.

 The rules are the same for all participants;
Answer the four questions, publish the answers via your blog and then nominate three new artists to continue the merry dance.

So here goes, my contribution to this arty adventure:

Martin Olsson's

Around the World Creative Blog Hop

1.  What am I working on?

I always have a number of paintings on the go at any one time. As my studio visits are irregular at best at the moment, it makes sense to me to have a choice of projects to return to. I never know which mood the studio will find me in.

I'm investigating colour, space and proportions in my work. Colour I find especially interesting, as a carrier of its own meaning, sufficient to produce a presence that stands up well to investigation and contemplation. 

For me, the strict limitation of expressive content is key in honing each work until just the right "note" is reached.


2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

 I would have to say by my chosen limitations. The specific limitations I have chosen to work with and how this affects my possibilities to paint is probably the most significant aspect in differentiating my work from other artists' work.

 I can enjoy what other artists' create, whether they work in an abstract or figurative idiom. I inform my own work from observing what others have done, whether it's friends or characters from the art historical past. I think that the aim of each artist is crucial in differentiating between individual approaches. What is the artist aiming for? The more I look at others' work, the more this question matters.


 3. Why do I create what I do?

 Sitting down, facing the canvas in total solitude whilst listening to music in the headphones is an intensely pleasurable experience. I would happily paint for this reason alone! As it happens, other aspects come into the mix as well. 

There is an excitement in experimenting with the picture plane, the deceptive simplicity of using but a few "ingredients" and see how much can still be done. Colour resonates with us on many levels and I find the more interesting levels are those which have less to do with 'beauty' or 'the sublime' and more with straightforward formal inquiry. Simplicity rocks.


4. How does my creative process work? 

It's very simple. Technically I use acrylics, industrial or household paint, masking tape and a palette knife. 
The starting point is always an urge to make two colours relate to each other on the picture plane. I instigate a conversation, set the tension, a theme will grow from these simple beginnings and I just add and take away as the image develops, almost by itself.

 I choose a canvas or a board, I rarely have specific preferences at this stage, a lot is just allowed to happen. Rather than create the image I 'direct' it. Parts will play the roles they innately hold, I simply adjust, tweak and ask them to work together, with each other as well as myself. 


Well, that was my answers in this Hop, and I'm now very happy to hand over to these three fine people and cracking artists:

Patricia Volk
David Smith
Tim Smith    

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Belonging (2014) Mixed media on canvas, 122cm x 61.5cm

Colours interest me on many levels. The pursuit of beauty, to be sure, employs colour as does signalling and instruction and an array of human interactions. We have sport, religion, politics and ethniticity that connect themselves with certain colours to gather mass and strength. Weaved in with our use of colour is always a narrative. Colour is used by people, and people's action has reasons. Life demands action and civilization as we know it is the accumulation of human activity. Through it all, however, colour remain ultimately a neutral player, nothing more than a certain wavelength picked up by the optical nerves in the eye.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Symmetry, balance and nothing. (Safety, 2014 Mixed media on canvas, 61cm x 92cm)

With time signals change. Language acquires new meaning, attitudes evolve as does the world around us. Everything moves and stands still at the same time. We can interpret the very same surroundings as replete with wondrous meaning or permeated with the signs of imminent doom. Art shares the same fertile ambivalence. Whatever we create we can see in it everything that fascinates us about life itself, our minds and the world we live in. Colour, symmetry and balance or indeed its exact opposite can ignite the void for a while if we so wish. It's easy and difficult at the same time, just as it should be.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

To just be. (Gutsy Pink, 2014 Mixed media on canvas, 50cm x 50cm)

Intensity is a sort of visual activity of its own kind. Negotiating intensity versus visual inactivity created the engine of this work that I gave the title "Gutsy Pink". Again a discussion with fellow artists led to the choice of pink as the theme for a new piece. Reflecting on pink itself makes it hard to ignore the buzz it emits and quite like plutonium, this must be sensibly contained as to become useful.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Blue on Blue 2014 Acrylics on Canvas 60cm x 80cm

The essentials of a painting remains an array of colours assembled on a surface in accordance to the impulses that leads the artist at the time of creating the piece. Here I wanted to spend some time on blue, and to arrange a group of other colours that would interact with blue in a powerful yet deadpan manner. I looked for strength and calm at the same time. Rather than mechanical ways of dividing the colours into different areas I wanted to piece it all together slowly. Something in this process remains visible on the surface after the paint has dried.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Linkage III 2014 Mixed media on canvas 50cm x 50cm

Reading the surface of a painting is often a dual process. There is the movement from let to right akin to the page of a book, and its opposite, the head on stare. One process leads into another. A time element comes into this continuous shift of view and can add a level of energy to what essentially is an inanimate, flat surface.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Linkage II, 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas 40cm x 40cm

In communication there are grades of urgency. Colour communicates its own narrative to the viewer. In sound as well as light we deal with vibration, and varying speed of said vibration. Our experience engage with matter, energy and time. As we view the inanimate flat surface of colour we ascribe to it an element of time and it seems to communicate to us a rhythm and frequently movement too. Sometimes the lack of complex narrative can help us get an idea of subtler, but no less compelling narratives. A lack of noise can make us listen harder.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Linkage, Mixed Media on Canvas, 2014 50cm x 50cm

Linkage or connection of parts build the fabric in matter as well as thought processes. The fabric gains its nature by the proximity of its parts. As with everything that is there is also its opposite, that which is not. This lies beyond. Paradoxically this area is a pre-requisite for the fabric itself.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Magma One. Mixed Media on Canvas, April 2014 90cm x 60cm

The power inherent in colour alone is a marvellous thing. The possibilities of the different combinations available and the effects judicious placement can achieve can both please, delight and confuse the creator of any artwork. Mixing colours and dynamic shapes is both stimulating and educational. Unmixed colours and the absence of expressive shapes can have no less of a stimulating effect on the eye. The less I manipulate the colour on the canvas, the more I feel I get to "know" the colour itself. In this work I wanted the surface to host a plain, straightforward display of a balanced yet pulsating group of colours. Despite its formal rigidity I wanted the combination to allude to natural hidden strength.  

Friday, 4 April 2014

Interview with the artist, courtesy of

Thanks to the great people on, an online directory promoting art from across the globe engaging artists and art-lovers alike in discussing, networking and sharing ideas about art, I was given the chance to elaborate on my ideas on painting and painters from the past I admire.

Read the full interview here:

Friday, 28 March 2014

Quiet. State, March 2014 Mixed Media on Canvas 80cm x 100cm

The absence of immediate force has many different results. The freedom this leaves to the beholder has both positive and negative implications. We want to be seduced, but not bullied. We want to be in control, but not have to do everything ourselves, as fellow humans and viewers of art, even. I wanted to stay awhile in the middle ground of action, and experience the special note of potential this offered. A polite declination to join the circus, or indeed the brawl on the picture plane. A tight-lipped stance on canvas. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Time, resistance and strength. Orange and Grey Band, March 2014 Mixed media on board, 73cm x 104cm

Wood is very different to paint on compared to canvas. Harder, of course, and with the inherent confidence of a more versatile material. We build with wood, houses, tables, chairs, the list is endless. The canvas has art as its purpose. Softer, gentler and ultimately weaker. Wood can withstand more re-working than canvas, and this adds opportunities for investigation. We operate with a different time-frame when painting on wood. This strength of character in the material, its dignity lead me to choose a different array of colours this time. The colours needed to match the vitality of the wood. I applied paint, scraped it off, painted the surface over and over again. Once the top layer had dried, the underlying layers could be revealed through scraping with metal tools. I could reach the past. We fought it out, me and the board. I used paint, the board used its resistance. I decorated the board with bright colours in homage to its strength.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A red Behemoth. Sections, Sept 2013, Acrylics on canvas 76.5cm x 122cm

Sections of colour is all there is here. A lengthy work process containing several layers of paint gave the surface a notable texture, but the linear manner with which the colour aligns itself stands in opposition to this  textural element. The large size of the canvas played a significant role in how colours were chosen an apportioned. This was an early work that taught me a great deal about aspects that since has become central to my painting. The paint was applied with palette knife and scrapers, so a measure of irregularity exists on the picture plane. As one of many in a series, this work remains my primus inter pares.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Random Harvest. How decisions can be taken. Dutch painting, 2014, Acrylics on canvas, 75cm x 100cm

A conversation I had with a painter colleague dealt with colour, and combinations of incongruous hues. My friend jokingly suggested a combination I could think of including in a work, namely orange and purple. I enjoyed the conversation greatly and took his suggestion as an honourable challenge and I suddenly felt I must build a painting on this very theme. Orange opposes blue on the colour wheel so I wanted blue in there, to have these kicking against each other on the canvas for eternity. Purple has tremendous dignity and an otherworldly aloofness I wanted to emphasize, thus I let her float over the arguing couple. To be given a random brief can sometimes help us move outside our comfort zone, and as soon as I had braved the orange I felt I had earned the right to work with the ultimate colour, the grandfather of all colours, namely white. The fact that my friend comes from Holland made the choice of orange appropriate and the advisory role he played added a communal feel to the work. As a counter challenge I gave him white and pink. He managed to deal with this duo without difficulty.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Horizontals, verticals and decisions. Yellow, white and black lines, Feb 2014 Acrylics on canvas, 50cm x 75cm

Directions matters in an image, they guide the eyes and give a rhythm to our associations. Most of my work assumes a horizontal narrative. Verticals I find entirely different in nature, less forgiving but also more powerful. The energy given out by verticals is higher, the image gains urgency but there is little peace to be had. Horizontals are still, calm but has less to do with life. Perhaps this is why I prefer horizontals. It is a peculiar fact in my mind that were I to paint but two straight lines across the canvas, regardless of uneven positioning, they'll always work horizontally. Vertically the same two stripes would seriously corrupt the composition were they unevenly placed. Activity versus passivity, doing versus being and many similar analogies. I engineered a meeting between the two aspects in this work, and as you can see negotiations are in full swing. Unusually I used a brush here, a tool I rarely find employable.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Edges and continuum. Yellow, red and white band, Feb 2014. Mixed media on canvas, 80cm x 100cm

The edges of the canvas can be approached in different ways. They can be the fence within which the motif lives, or finds itself arranged. Alternatively they can be the signallers that indicate to the viewer that what we see on the canvas may stretch out in infinity beyond where the canvas meets the wall. In the latter case the edges point outwards, into what we cannot see, whereas in the former case the edges invite us to partake in the feast that has been served up in the central area of the painting. I find myself using the latter approach in most cases. Here the areas propel themselves sideways into space at the same time as they stand perfectly still. All enquiries to

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Proportions in space. Abstract composition, Feb 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 50cm x 50cm

The intensity of content is varied by many different components. Colour, shape and the proportions between them are fundamental building blocks to be sure. Beyond these we have an infinite array of other parts, and considering these, it's a challenge to stay even close to some kind of coherence in a painting. I worked carefully with areas, and placement here, and returned to the canvas numerous times. Initially texture had played a bigger role, but as the colours grew in significance the textural element diminished. I seeked the advice from fellow artists on a few occasions and this was always very helpful. The palette knife was again crucial for determining the nature of the outcome of this work. All enquiries to

Monday, 27 January 2014

The humming. Yellow, Red and Grey painting Jan 2014 Mixed media on canvas, 80 cm x 100 cm

There is a dead-pan quality to colour fields that come close to notes in music. Variations of intensity, tone and volume all has to be chosen when working the surface. The lure is as always to put too much into the composition. Here I wanted to get to a point of balance where the output from the canvas was a just enough to create activity, but still sparse enough to stay solid.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Neutrality and Narrative. White and Buff White Painting, Jan 2014 Acrylics on canvas 46 cm x 61 cm

In a dark room it takes a little while for the eyes to adjust themselves to the surroundings. Once we start to discern shapes and spaces we realize how different everything looks in the dark. We might even be in a familiar room, yet what we see has an unfamiliar character to it. Colour has all but disappeared, shapes are vague at best. The longer we look the more we make out, though. Our eyes adjust. Images, shapes and spaces slowly appear. The more I consider abstraction within a narrow band of shapes, the more can I seem to find different narratives where there previously appeared to be none. The excitement of walking past a brick wall, or a metal door is a new discovery. In this painting, again an old work became the ground for a combination of neutral colours, normal white and buff white.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The cutting of space. Blue and White Composition, Jan 2014. Acrylics on canvas, 40.5cm x 50.7cm

Some of the work that doesn't quite make it in my eyes often create a perfect ground for new work. I have spoken about this earlier on my blog, and there is a particular satisfaction in "burying" a painting and see a brand new one "grow" from its shallow grave. Life and death in a never ending ring-dance through time. We start new projects all the time, but we can never quite escape our past. We might as well make it work for us. I had thought a lot about blue, different combinations of blue and decided to use it with white, which is a colour I use a lot. I set to work on texture and the cutting of space, working with the proportions of the areas to achieve the balance I was looking for. The slow build-up of layers by the help of the metal scraper is how I work in the majority of cases, and on top of old textures the results can never quite be predicted. For enquiries about this work, please contact Panzer Trotman Fine Art Gallery on

Opposition, Harmony and the Void. Abstract Painting, Jan 2014 Acrylics on canvas, 50cm x 50cm

To put universal conditions down as simply as possible has always interested me. To paint "conditions" felt like a challenge, and I wanted to make a statement that could serve three purposes. Firstly it was to address general conditions of life, existence and everything, to paraphrase Douglas Adams. Secondly it needed to be simple and thirdly it should be "quiet" enough to allow multiple interpretations. This painting relies less on texture, it's one of my more stringently executed works. Hesitation need not apply.
We pursue everything surrounded by the void. We might oppose something, or somebody. We might be involved in struggle. We might chase a goal. We might have a balanced and fruitful relationship with something or someone, and this always exists in relation to the void, whatever the void might mean. The void can equally mean time itself. Both the past and the future can be seen as a void. Life, death, activity, passivity, individuality and community with others is all played out in the present, in the midst of the void. The void itself, like the blank canvas, creates the singularly most important condition for anything. As I have an interest in science, I wanted the painting to be a homage to earthly, non-lyrical considerations, such as the periodic table or perhaps diagrams of molecular compositions as well as all of the above. A little about a lot.