• malcolm jarvis

Towards abstraction

Soaring Flight, 1960 by Peter Lanyon. Photograph: Courtesy of Arts Council Collection

I may have mentioned before that I went to art school in Cornwall where I was surrounded by, and influenced by, the work of Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton and others who were working in St Ives at the time. Inevitably my own work evolved in an abstract or non-figurative manner. Another huge influence was Nicholas de Stael, in my view one of the most under-rated painters of the 20th century, whose work I saw on a trip to Paris.

Whether the work was good or not was for others to judge. All I know is that not enough of it sold to bring in any sort of income so I used to spend time sitting on the harbour in Mevagissey painting small canvasses and selling them to passing tourists. As time passed, so my work drifted increasingly and inevitably towards realism (and eventually to soft pastel as “my” medium, but that’s another story) and I built a reasonable reputation in the UK and Europe as well as in the USA.

When I hit a major birthday a couple of years ago I decided enough was enough and made the decision to move forward towards increased levels of abstraction in my work (or perhaps it’s backward towards my roots). Whatever, I’m enjoying the journey and delighting in studying some of the many contemporary abstract painters around such as Alice Sheridan, Karen Hale and Hiroshi Matsumoto. I’m also loving the work of Fred Ingrams who paints the Cambridgeshire fens in an incredibly powerful, semi abstract manner.

Anyway, here’s an abstract piece produced in the last week that I‘d like to share with you.

Any comments or critique welcomed.

Talk soon,





I'm Malcolm, a painter, tutor, lecturer and workshop instructor living in South Norfolk.

My years of painting experience have taught me to loosen-up, let go of fear and paint spontaneously.

My philosophy is ‘less is more’.

  • Fewer brushes for livelier, quicker painting.

  • Fewer paints for easy, straightforward colour mixing.

  • Fewer techniques for optimal results.​

But that doesn’t mean I ignore the basic fundamentals and principles upon which I believe all good painting should be based: shape, value, colour, edges and centre of interest.

​These foundations underpin all my work. If you want to paint portraits, abstracts, still life or landscapes, the same foundations apply; they will give you a solid basis for anything you choose to paint, regardless of subject or medium.

It is my intention to talk about these fundamentals in a straight-forward, no-nonsense, jargon-free way in this blog and to encourage you incorporate them into your work.

Thank you for visiting!

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