martin davis artist

Mark making is a primal urge. This is where I explain the ecstasy of painting and why it calms my soul.

Personal development

When I retired from the fire service many moons ago I anticipated a kind of paradise in which I could sit painting while sipping my favourite beverage as the birds sang outside the studio window in the sunshine….you know the sort of thing! what I never expected was the need to take care of my own portfolio and back catalogue – funny that. I like to keep good images of all my artwork so that in future I can produce prints etc whenever the need arises. High resolution pictures require a decent DSLR camera, and as I don’t like to rely on other people in the long run I coughed up the readies to buy myself a suitable camera this last Christmas.

Well it turns out that the capability of the camera far outstrips my ability and knowledge, so purely for archiving purposes I have booked me and the camera onto a workshop at West Studios in Chesterfield specifically designed (or so they tell me) for people like me – you know..all the gear and no idea! I am looking forward to it though and hopefully to using my fancy dan camera with confidence to keep a pictorial library of my artistic output.

Got a feeling though that even though I bought this thing with one specific purpose in mind I will end up getting into a whole new world of creativity….photography! Think I might have to rename my online avatar papparazzo!!

A question of two artists

thumbnail_img_0563A few days ago I was at Tate Britain, occasional trip to London is something I do as a treat and a chance to see up close how some of the great artists work(ed). I was there to see the recent Paul Nash exhibition but when I booked the ticket I realised I could also see the Hockney retrospective on the same day for very little extra cost. No brainer? I had not intended doing both as I’d already seen a lot of Hockney stuff lately and felt I’d seen enough but I thought what the heck?
I was glad I did though. For more than the obvious financial reason. I really, really enjoyed the Nash work, never having seen much more than his war work. But Hockney was a revelation. If like me you think you’ve seen Hockney think again. The scale variety and sheer vibrance & audacity of the work there was quite overwhelming. Not very often that I’m blown away by such things but I was close to it I have to say.
But what I didn’t see until a while after was the contrast between the two. Nash looked and felt like an artist working very darkly with careful experimentation. Hockney on the other hand was a joyous helter-skelter of a journey through his work. The word that kept coming back to me again and again was “playfulness”. His whole approach to his art seemed to revolve around pleasure seeking and a kind of “bugger it” attitude. Made me think again about this whole question of whether artists should suffer for their art, or at least have suffered before they can produce their best. Not true in the case of Hockney, as far as I could see. But overwhelmingly so for Nash whose whole life, let alone his artistic output, seemed bounded in and dominated by his wartime experiences. Questionable though even in his case whether it brought out the best in him – or prevented it from ever surfacing?

new work

Well I started a piece of work recently that is just not my usual thing at all – a lady decked out in her art deco finery in a kind of poster style- and is as yet untitled. Yet the strangest thing is that this work which I rate as purely decorative, not “art” at all and as yet unfinished has already earned me two more commissions.

I sometimes wonder about what the art buying public want and ask myself if I’m not absolutely the worst judge of my own work?

Party time. WIP.jpg

see what I mean?

still as they say the customer is always right. If things go even more crazy on the commission front I’ll keep you posted.Just goes to show what I’ve always said – do more, think less!

no mojo, no title – no visuals

struggling to find the mojo still………..something to do with the weather – true it’s warmed up of late, someone tell my studio. It’s like a chill cabinet in there. Christmas is on its way too, so many other things to do. Don’t worry come the 26th ART will re-establish itself. And my brain will have worked out what it wants to do next. These fallow periods are v important I think! in the meantime a lot of behind-the-scenes things going on. it’s not all glamour and paintbrushes you know!

The importance of advice

It has been a strange Summer. My art practice has been patchy, partly due to other pressures (domestic & otherwise) and partly down to my own damned awkwardness . Trying to think about my painting I slip into overthinking it. Then I overcompensate and try to clear my mind completely as I paint, stream of consciousness stuff, which I find I can’t do. Then I get irritated that I can’t produce the right mind set as and when I want. For anyone who thinks this is easy IT IS NOT EASY! at least not for me. I guess in my more sanguine moments that is why when the balance between thinking and creating is just right it is soooo beautiful….it can’t last which is why it’s so special when it does happen and you just have to hang on to it as long as possible and make the most. What do they say? carpe diem/make hay while the sun shines ..trite but true!

What I have to keep doing is paint no matter what, and hope the beautiful thing happens sooner rather than never. In the meantime trying too hard and getting some kind of mental constipation does zero, zilch towards achieving anything worthwhile. Bloody hard though – I just want the best, the best, the best!!  One of the reasons my output has always been so varied is exactly for this. To help keep me, artistically speaking, on my toes and stop the dreaded boredom gaining a toehold.

Well I can tell you I have been on the end of some rather frank and forthright feedback (I asked for it) recently by a gallery owner which has made me take stock and re-think this approach. Is constantly painting different stuff getting the best out of me really? or is it just whimsy on my part? up until he spoke to me I had always resisted it. gotta protect my artistic purity you know & not prostitute my art blah, blah, blah! but for the first time I have acknowledged this “dark” side….I can focus on one aspect of my art rather than continually chopping and changing without some unforeseen catastrophe befalling me. Well I can at least give it a serious go and see what it produces. So this might be the importance of advice, something freely offered which might just jolt me out of my hiding place and make me consider what I might produce if I focus.

I guess I do need at some point to find what I am best at. I can’t go on ignoring advice and pretending I know better without at least putting it to the test. So as an early NY resolution you will be seeing me producing more of this sort of thing –


just to see if I can hone my skills by a prolonged period of focus. I may need my other areas of interest just to give me a break but the main thrust of my practice will be as above for the foreseeable!

Wish me luck! I hope it works.





Tate Modern

I was back in London again yesterday at Tate Modern, one of my favourite haunts. Unlike many art galleries I can think of this place always feels alive and vibrant. I suppose being in Central London helps a bit, and being on the tourist map. But it had to start from somewhere and it’s been an unbelievable success so far since it began….and it’s not your average tourist in there either judging from many of the comments I overhear when I’m there. These are some serious art lovers!


Even when I’ve finished at my chosen exhibition (Georgia O’Keefe yesterday) there is so much else to see in the other free exhibits and permanent collections. I stood behind a young kid yesterday couldn’t have been more than 7-8, both of us staring at Dali’s “Metamorphosis of narcissus” and he was in raptures at it. It was so great to see that at such an early age, hope he never loses his enthusiasm!

Changes are afoot there too with a lot of building work going on so we will see what improvements and additions are in place when it’s all completed.

Really enjoyed the G.O. exhibition…more than I really expected too if I’m honest. But I still get the feeling with her work of so much unfulfilled promise. I reckon she was capable of so much more . But that’s not to decry her output, what she did was stupendous. Don’t think her flowers are the best of her work though. It struck me, while I was gazing at her New York street scenes, how similar in style she was to Magritte. Just in terms of her surreal compositions and her pared down lines and smooth colour gradations. Never really noticed before, take a look – particularly her skyscrapers and moonlit sky backdrops etc.

As always I came back from my little sojourn reinvigorated and determined to push on with my own work….and not get so up myself with it all the time. Just paint!

Midlands Open: Opening Event

As one of the selected artists I will be attending this preview event

…. and I hope I will see you there, please come and say hello. Don’t be shy I don’t bite and I would love it if you wanted to talk art and let me know what you think of the work on display – and why!

See you there 2pm sharp.

Midlands Open 2016

Today I learned that I have been selected against some fairly stiff opposition for this year’s Midlands Open Exhibition which runs from Aug 20th – Sept 17th at the well respected Tarpey Gallery in Castle Donington, UK.

Following on from my success in April with the Hornshaw Gallery in London “Looking to the stars” this, I hope, represents a real step up for me in the all-important critical success of my work. Commercial success is all very well and I am always delighted to find a buyer for any of my work, but this is the really important side of things for me. To know that what you do is respected by others in the art world gives you such a boost – it’s great!

Anyway these are two works from my Snow Trees trio which landed me this opportunity; I think they’re good and now I know others think so too.



If you are around in the area during the exhibition dates I would be delighted if you call in and spend some time there and have a look at these two.

Turning inwards

The great thing about art – apart from the passion & the way it rips you apart and sticks you back together again – is that if you’re not in the mood you really don’t have to face people or the outside world with it. You can just withdraw and carry on without losing anything. Doing this from time to time might even make you a better artist!

Well I don’t think it does you any harm anyway. For me at any rate it’s essential. I might be “researching”, internalising, musing, thinking instead


….call it what you want, or maybe I’m just hacked off for a while with the whole damn thing. Whatever it is I need it.

I desperately want a new approach!

Back with Zak

Derbyshire Open Arts seems a distant memory now. Very enjoyable this year with lots of visitors and it’s always great to meet new friends and network. But to be honest, and I feel a bit guilty saying this, it was quickly forgotten – or rather eclipsed – by events subsequently. Nothing to do with art, and I don’t usually let the outside world intrude, but meet Zak…..


Zak is my new grandson and 10lbs of urgent human demand. Gorgeous though he is everything else in our family, including my artistic endeavours, blogs etc,has taken on a distinctly secondary perspective over the last few months. I expect things will gradually resume their normal course, and even though becoming a grandfather again is one of those “life-will-never-be-the-same-again-moments” once the novelty dies down even my blogging should pick up again.

Anyway I must get some painting done first. At the moment it’s still life which I seem to have discovered a real feel for – this is what I am working on presently, Marbles but it’s the colours that really have me hooked. Still life is a great observational discipline.


Bye for now!