Reason vs Motivation

Reason vs Motivation

Another New Studio

On the Open weekend I had twenty visitors on the Saturday and two on the Sunday, I can’t complain because I sold a painting.

I’ve called this post Reason vs Motivation as a step towards an explanation of my current practice. When I was talking to people at the open studio the film elicited some comments about its elegiac quality, which tied into my thinking through Eliot’s ‘deception of the Thrush’. Given that gardens in Christian thought are always the garden of Eden and consequently serve as a metaphor for the loss of innocence, the reference to my own garden uses it as trigger for the desire to reclaim something lost. The something lost is lost “in” innocence rather than being innocence. The problem with the past is that memory and nostalgia render it different to the degree that what you desire from the past isn’t what it was in the past, and the suggestion that it can be reclaimed is doubly erroneous as you yourself are the major difference that prevents its return. This is of course entirely obvious and is not the reason that the work is made but is probably the motivation for it being made. I’m still trying to articulate this properly and perhaps that’s the wrong thing to do as nothing kills creation for me quicker than having a reason to do it. I think it becomes contingent when it has that kind of rationale attached. It has to remain poetry rather than prose.

Since the open studio I carried on with the drawing of the photograph made by Jamie Bubb 

Reason vs Motivation

jb-flowers one

Making the image darker and darker.

jb_flowers one

This was the state of play on the 7th December, and started another drawing from the same source.

jb_flowers two

This was the second drawing on the 7th December.

jb_flowers two

And this is it on the 8th December.

jb_flowers one

The first drawing was darkened considerably by the 11th.

jb_flowers two

More detailed was added to the second drawing by the 11th.

Reason vs Motivation

three trees sculpture 15th December

On the 15th December I returned to the big sculpture and added white paint. Initially I’d thought of painting spots where I wanted to piece holes but when I started I decided that I should just paint the gaps between branches, or an idea of them.


As I waiting for that to dry I drew a pigeon.

I made a small cardboard maquette to explore the three trees as separate elements on the 18th December.

adjusted the low section of the model on the 21st December.

three trees maquette 19122023

On the 19th December I built a cardboard maquette developed from sketchbook drawings of the new big sculpture and then on the 21st I painted it red.

studio 21st December

The polycam scan of the thin red maquette.

Reason vs Motivation

A few days after the open studio weekend and before I got really stuck in the mud mentally I wrote a further piece in my journal.

The question hovering above all art is ‘What is it about?’. These days there are labels so that you know immediately, or at least you get a clue that helps you make sense of the piece. Personally the question is always ‘Why did you make this?’. Because the act of making is the act of translating a desire into a realisation (or does the translation create the work?). The work starts with an idea that changes through application, an act of both compromise and development, and is presented, mutated, at the end. My response is ‘that’s kind of what I meant’. I […] think that there is a well of experience, belief, prejudice and angst stirred with study, planning and effort that the work springs from.

It doen’t really make it any clearer.

Directionless Direction

Directionless Direction

Another New Studio


A trip around the studio on Friday 17th November 2023. This shows the “redfilm” [link] video in its new projection, then moves out of the booth navigating the “three red trees” sculpture and briefly views the three red garden drawings that had been framed at this date before showing the different lighting settings for the NHS lemniscate. The video looks at the comfrey torus and ends on the trees.

Directionless Direction

I took delivery of the frames for the new work on the 17th November and started to frame the existing work. Red Garden One is above, Red Garden Two and Red Garden Three below.

Directionless Direction

On the 18th I decided that the new iteration of the Redfilm should have statistics about the climate crisis, centred around global warming. I spent the day making the slides and inserting them into the film. The facts were gleaned from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report March 2023

Via World Resources Institute . The new film was entirely unconvincing and makes the whole concept somewhat patronising, so I dropped it.

On the 19th I found a review of Jewel Spears Brooker, T. S. Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018. 240 pages. ISBN 1421426528. [LINK]

In which the reviewer, Michelle A Taylor of Harvard University, comments that

“the “deception of the thrush” is that the “world of speculation” can be made real, that the objects of the mind could overcome physical objects, the reality of the body: so Eliot returns to idealism—…—and sees it for what it is. Like interpretation, speculation posits its own world, immaterial, with only some relationship to fact.”

I’ve ordered the book to more fully study this but the meat of it is what I’m exploring the edges of in this current set of work. The idea that the fact of making things as an artist removes from them the possibility of representation because they lack the contingency of design. I suspect that as I reach out for the chance to articulate this the art world itself has fully embraced the contingency of design as a necessary precursor to the creative act. When I was much younger and became a teacher I spent the first ten years of my career teaching design precisely because there are methods and, whilst you can make up the rules you follow, there have to be rules. In art, which I consider absolute, you can’t teach it you just have to do it. This is what I mean by Directionless Direction.

Directionless Direction

On the 20th I made some collages exploring the forms in the big red sculpture and the source for it, two of which are reproduced here. The one above was used as the basis of the bigger drawing discussed further on.

The next two photographs show the drawing “bigred” begun on the 22nd of November and made with inks and pastel.

Also on the 22nd I started Red Garden Four.

At the end of the 22nd it looked like this with the addition of the chainlink and the panel.

Directionless Direction

On the 24th November I added the fence posts and the bushes but decided the piece needed more definition. I added a wash of Indian ink and then painted the sky out with Titanium White oil paint.

I also continued to work on the “bigred” drawing.

Taking it through the stages illustrated above, becoming more like the collage as it progresses.

By the end of the 27th November the drawing looked like this, and the studio was beginning to be ready for the Open Weekend at the beginning of December.

Additionally on the 27th I published the first release of the “doncplatonic” app.

On the 29th I worked more on the “bigred” drawing and started another drawing based on a photograph by a local photographer  Jamie Bubb, with permission, that was posted to threads a day or two before.

I’ll post more of the open day in a separate post and also a more detailed accounting of the reason for it all.


I’ve continued to draw every day;

The November drawings can be seen here

and the October images here

There is a link to the previous month’s Gallery on each page.

The drawings are posted to Threads and Instagram each day.