I mentioned yesterday that I’m thinking of painting a small stool alongside finally completing  the large painted Can that kept me occupied last Winter. I stalled in the Man v. Can Project at the lettering stage, and the fact that I ended up with parts of the Can getting simply too complicated to replicate, the whole thing become just a little stale. I’m determined to remedy it by painting out the overwrought sections.

This Winter I’m in search of greater simplicity and getting a little more fluidity and spontaneity back into the work. I want to enjoy the freedom of the craft rather than trying to achieve what becomes a rather stilted perfectionism.

In looking through my bulging folder of Water Can photos taken around the rallies over the last few years, and in looking through the various books on the history of ‘Roses & Castles’ painting I keep coming back to men such as Thomas Clayton of Oldbury’s painter Fred Winnett. who’s flower designs are unlike any others.

Fred’s work are rather neat, formalised and abstracted patterns based only very vaguely on flower forms. Each main flower had a central cup enclosed by a pair of elongated petal strokes with three semi-circles along the leading edge. They were, somewhat unfairly to my mind, nicknamed ‘Claydon Cabbages’.

I love the balance and precision of his ‘total’ designs where pattern-making has become far more important than any idea of flower painting mimicking nature.

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Copying the photo above in pencil has helped me ‘see’ just how sophisticated his seemingly naive patterns really are.

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I’m planning to use this stool as a guiding light as I plan my own small stool design.

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