6'Charlestown 9 - (A Day with my Daughter'  40x40cms  oil on canvas  2020




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Denise and I were very saddened to hear of the recent passing of artist Kathleen Alberter. Since 2015 Kathleen has been a regular attendee on our Freedom in Painting courses in Cornwall and Kent and over the years we both grew to appreciate her kindness, generosity and sincerity. 


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As an artist Kathleen was driven: she had a deep understanding of the power of painting and her knowledge, emotions and spirituality were channelled into her work at a pitch that is quite rare. Here are Kathleen's words when she gave her all at the 'Auerbach' and 'BOOK' workshops:

'I have learned to be not care but to really be me. It was a profound but not easy experience - I went beyond limits'   

'The workshop brought the painter in me opened the soul - made liquid the heart'

I very much regret that we never had a chance to show together but here are is a collection of her extraordinary paintings which always challenged me as teacher and viewer as they are so, so personal and emotionally charged, like no other work I've seen.

We shall miss her. 







Yesterday was about establishing the palette and bringing in the ideas about image and location from the novel. Today was about bringing unity and simplification to the painting, finding a balance of shapes and colour. After trying a few things out on Photoshop, I was In the studio early morning. The orange was deepened and brought round to the left side, butting up against a new dense green triangle, top-left. Gone were chimney pots and superficial gesture. The drawing inside the the labyrinth was also refined and we have a new title:'1981', my first year at art college...



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The first session...lunch. A novel where a serial-killer is not the main news...,


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BOOK 11: Re-visited Nov/Dec

Always an awkwardness with the relationship between the central red-shape and the larger lozenge red/orange shapes - a suspicion of images crowbarred into the painting. I took them all out to bring emphasis to the design of curves and the sparseness and palette of the (written) landscape that inspired the painting.


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A revisit: intensifying the reds in the central shape and introducing a tiny yellow cross, marking the location of the climax of the novel and bringing a point of focus to the painting...


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Yellows poured and scraped and knifed onto the left side, set off by the tumbling purple curves, a roller-coaster ride to the bottom-right corner. Deeper into painting: ideas introduced, manipulated, discarded, finding out what is important to the piece. At first view, it's colour and shapes, surface and rhythms of curves, controlled by horizontals and the canvas-divide. But the desert-palette is specific to the source novel, with disguised imagery and location locked into the composition. There's a new transparency to the paint, with more taking off than usual and a boldness and delicacy in the marks.

Time to walk away and enjoy...


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That's better- a large swipe (and wipe) of transparent red from bottom right to top left has created a simplification and unity, its edge linking to the scarlet lines.


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A good session trying out ideas, location and image.  It's got a little busy with too much narrative - I don't think the dark 'building' belongs in the painting. I am enjoying the drawn double 's', abstracted from a key image. It needs to be more prominent.


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Crossing continents in many ways...a psychopathic gunman, good versus evil & Biblical references - a great book to work from...

Reds and orange leftovers from 'BOOK 12 - (Heat)', surrounded by washes of Indian Yellow and Transparent Oxide Yellow and spots of a dense Red/Green mix, one more red, one more green. 

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Here's a dilemma... portrait is more ambiguous, more about colour and line and the idea of harbour, whereas the landscape-format is closer to place, image more prominent, the yellows implying the swell of water curving upwards on the left-side. Back to portrait, and slipway becomes a triangle, pointing upwards to a near square, the eye continuing a clockwise journey around the painting, the tension of a fragile frame, barely containing the weight of yellows ...

What is real? Blue stripe or strip of sea? It can be either or both, the frisson of possibility that runs through my work. But more importantly, the cobalt line belongs in the painting, bringing in vitality and difference. We can, and are, enjoying the painting both ways...


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 This is the buzz with painting; taking an intuitive leap that risks all and brings completion, joy and surprise. I feel lucky.



Painting in my sleep again...thoughts of had to be Cobalt (with a touch of Viridian) - it looks sensational with the Raw Sienna. Late yesterday, I introduced Lemon and reworked the  internal yellows, particularly around the curved bulge in the bottom right, picking up the green underneath. There is a solidity about that section now, held by the blue line....We're done.


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HARBOUR: structure and movement, solidity and liquidity. The idea of 'harbour': enclosure, entrance, like a vase...



A shift in orientation. A higher-key yellow adds weight to the centre and pushes the 'frame' to the canvas edge, reinforced with a heavy smeared line. Sitting good. Now there is more space, strength of colour, clarity and a delicacy with the new drawing - a harbour has been found. Nearly there...(4)


The painting began with a Raw-Sienna/yellow stain, a new colour- a Light Green/Magenta mix, adding weight and contrast - and a slash of masking-tape. (1). Too many same-size elements: the painting is simplified with a flood of a liquid three yellow mix (2). Now there are too many entrances! This is resolved with a chunky sweeping mark in the bottom right, simplifying the composition, taking the eye upwards. (3) Now there is an internal frame, with a movement between the four elements. Love the colour hum in the top-left corner and the hidden strength and precision of the revealed line when the masking tape was removed.  This beautiful mark is the unexpected - let's build around it (below)


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