Exhibition Overview: NORMAN LONG at The Storey, Lancaster

18. XI. 2019

An exhibition at The Storey, Lancaster.

Although I already made comment on this exhibition in my sketchbook I thought I’d also bring them over here, so that I can include some pictures of the works to put things into perspective.

Summer Plaza II, oil on board

Observing people – human behaviour

  • different from watching people in an artificial setting like a studio etc.

Starts with a drawing, then fills in with oil paint – monochrome – adding tone

If he feels stuck on the process he’ll take a photograph – print it and paint on top with oil paint – to see where he wants to go with it – see what works best

Observing people – does sketches but also works from photographs


Capturing an aspect of a person he’s drawn to – the painting to emphasise that aspect

Seems to WORK IN LAYERS – the top layers – final – seem to convey the movement – mask some of the other info

Undetailed most of the time – and by that I mean that the shapes are generalised – so overall that gives an AMBIGUOUS EFFECT

A comment I heard from a lady that was also in the exhibition space was that there was a lack of sharp edges to the paintings – which is something I didn’t consider before – this means that the paintings have a CONTINUITY to them – a FLOW that CONNECTS the paintings

something to also consider about my drawings since a large conceptual focus is on connecting to people, places, history and myself – so this aspect would also be a benefit to them – but I guess the overall darkness of my drawings kind of supports that?

Spectacle, oil on paper

I ended up speaking to the artist as well, so here are some notes from that:

Arches does paper that can be used with oil paints (an example of it is in the above drawing which I couldn’t believe was done with oil paints!) – he used a wash of oil paint and turps to produce a really cool study-like drawing – actually quite an interesting process

  • he projected different photos onto this A3 sheet of ARCHES paper then painted a figure or two from one photograph, then moved onto another depending on what he thought was missing from the composition

What stood out to me was our long conversation on PROCESS – I asked him about the struggles of starting experimenting and of actually starting, as well as being a perfectionist as an artist (which isn’t healthy!)

  • he recommended the book “Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” – by David Bayles and Ted Orland – which I need to get and have a read, probably will happen over Christmas!!
  • he mentioned a story he read in the book – about 2 groups who were asked to do pottery – one was asked to focus on QUANLITY, the other on QUANTITY
    • unsurprisingly the group that focused on QUANTITY did BETTER overall because of the PRACTICE and EXPERIENCE that they gained along the way!
    • [I always forget about that!]
  • he also gave me the advice: that if I ever felt like there were a couple of things I wanted to add to my work to make it more “complete” I should JUST LEAVE IT – he said he never finishes his paintings  – they are always something like 95% or 98% complete!

Oh, and I was also reminded about the technique of attaching a tool to a stick and drawing or painting with that – we used to do that in first year’s life drawing sessions and it completely escaped my mind – so is something I want to use in the future as a means of letting go of control and relaxing and enjoying the process of drawing when I feel the pressure to create – also something I could incorporate into my drawing workshops!

[he used this technique in the image shown above!]

Study for Winter Concourse, oil on photograph

These studies really drew my attention due to their ambiguity and the time it takes to uncover shapes to comprehend and find meaning in the forms and tones we see before us – this phenomenon of cognitive processing fascinates me and how it can be used in my work to reinforce the idea of the mind at work – this technique further forces the viewer to think about that


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