perception – memory – invention

I was reading recently about the painter Euan Uglow and his early training at the Slade school with William Coldstream. Unfamiliar with Coldstream’s work, I was surprised to discover how completely and faithfully Uglow adopted and stayed with his teacher’s process and basic approach to painting, which consists of a process of constant measurement of the subject and continual adjustment of the image to bring the two it into as close an alignment as possible.

Working from life is a process of perceptual observation, commitment to memory, and then, after some amount of loss of the memory and possibly invention, a transfer of the image to form in some media, paint, clay, whatever.

It is striking that both Uglow’s working process, and so career, is built on a desire to obsessively focus on a fixed set of elements. Perhaps simply as a way of moving forward, it was useful to him to, rather than base his process on experimentation and imagination, do the reverse, and drastically exclude options.

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