The subject of much of your work is the Cornish coastline and the landscapes of the Southwest. Do you have a favourite area and if so why?
In all the years that I have explored and made pictures around the coastline and inland of Devon and Cornwall, I have seldom revisited many locations. There are so many wondrous places so seek out on this beautiful peninsular.
However, it is Cape Cornwall that will always remain in my heart and mind. This spectacular stretch of rugged coastline is where the land meets the mighty North Atlantic Ocean. It is near to being uninhabited. This may be due to the steep cliffs and huge rocks there that make it impossible to create a safe harbor or port there. This is a place that I have returned to many times.
I have drawn and painted there, used the location for two of my films, and often merely sat there picking on my guitar and jamming with the sounds of crashing waves.
Often your works are characterised by a narrative that is philosophical or political. Can you explain the narrative behind your painting ‘El Partido Político’ (Spanish). ‘Le Parti Politique’ (French)’?
During the sixties I often made pictures and cartoon strips that made a satiric political comment. Maybe to my shame but I ceased doing such for many years.
I now am once again enraged and heartbroken at the conundrum of our times and the wicked and vile responses of our international so-called leaders.
The title is ‘The Political Party’ (the lingual translation is to suggest global involvement), (too many other counties to include in the title).
The story within the picture depicts politicians disguised behind grotesque masks with poisonous lies upon their tongues while mad dogs fart foul missiles from their rear ends. To the right of the picture justice is mortally wounded and the blood of the innocent tips the scales of decency.
‘Lake Treflection’ is created using pastel can you describe your process of creating an artwork in this medium?
Although I work on pictures indoors during the worst weather of the winter months, I am first and foremost a plein air artist. Be it on a boat, crossing the moors on horseback, or scrambling over rocks and up cliff faces large canvases and oil paints are a burden to transport. Therefore my mediums of choice are pencil or watercolours. For the first time in many years, this past springtime I made use of pastels.
As for how I go about making a picture while using pastels. I simply draw what is in front on my eyes.
I absolutely adore the rich pigment that pastels afford but even when finished the artwork remains volatile unless being fixed. Having experimented with every known means of applying fixative to pastel pictures, they all darken and rob the vivid hues of the original work. For me they are a fantastic way of creating pictures that are to become limited edition prints or illustrations. Having said that, they look great when they are unfixed and under glass.
Can you tell us about one of your works that carries a philosophical message?
I’m trying to answer these questions in relation to my more recent work so in this case my offered example has to be ‘Miorai’ (The Fates).
This is a set of three oil paintings that are gilded with genuine 23 carat gold.
They are also available as limited editions that are etched onto polished metal.
1) The Alchemist’s Daughter (‘Clotho’ in Greek, ‘Nona’ in Latin)
2) The Philosopher’s Widow (‘Lachesis’ in Greek, ‘Decuma’ in Latin)
3) Fortuna’s loving Cousin (‘Atropos’ in Greek, ‘Morta’ in Latin)
The story of the Miorai dates back to ancient times. It is in part legend, embraces mythology, and dovetails in to history, and who knows if it is not partly true?
By the time Classical Greece had evolved and a prescribed set of gods had been adopted, among the many gods and demigods were feminine and masculine entities who supposedly possessed various traits and abilities including the capability of metamorphosing into animals. Alongside these gods were the Mioria (the three fates), these women were not gods but were said to be even more powerful than any god other than Zeus himself. The role of these females is believed to be to determine the life and destiny of all humans. The first being named ‘Clotho’ spun the thread of life, ‘Lachesis’ measured and dispensed the thread, and ‘Atropos’ cut it (thus determining the individuals moment of death).
My own visual representation of the Miorai adopts a reverie of semiotics that include some symbols from the early periodic table and astrological signs, along with symbolic representations of the concepts of ‘reason’, ‘logic’, ‘probability’, ‘imagination’, and ‘creativity’. Each of the three pictures also includes the use of contemporary iconography. How to read and interoperate the intended messages held within these paintings is intentionally left to the viewer’s own intellect and power of imagination.
A more comprehensive explanation of these works can be found on my news page at: http://www.cazu.co.uk/news.html
|Al Cazu News
Recently Published Books . Al has at long last written his autobiography. The book is titled ‘I Guess You Had To Be There’. It is a publication that reflects on his life from his formative years until the present day. It is a story not just about Alan the artist but is also a narr
Please can you describe a typical day in the creation of an artwork?
There really is no typical day. During the winter months I am often working on large oil paintings that take many weeks to complete. On these I may work as many as sixteen hours each day. During warmer days I am usually outside and working alla prima. Sometimes I am working on a series of pictures and have a pretty good idea of where I want things to go. The more difficult but possibly most exciting times are when I am searching for sometime new or the work itself dictates what happens.
You never know what the day will present to you by way of ideas and experiences.
Your preferred medium is watercolour. What are the benefits and disadvantages of working in this medium for you?
For ease of mobility, speed of work, and sustainability of pigment, watercolour holds the high ground. They are certainly not easy to master and their application needs to be very different from most alternative mediums. With oil on canvas the accomplished painter works from dark to light and then finally adds the highlights. With watercolour the opposite applies. The white of the paper is the most true light that the painting will ever have. Then colour pigment is layered down where less light is needed.
Unlike many other painting techniques, watercolours allow only one chance for the artist to achieve their desired effect. There is no possibility of rubbing out or successfully painting over. White paint can be added but it is never the same as leaving the paper surface clean where and when white is required.
For the plein air painter watercolours are portable, fast drying, and allow (in fact demand) for fast and well-planned working practices. This discipline when mastered is perfect for painting a scene where the light is changing fast and constantly.
Like all other mediums watercolours take time and practice to master. If asked for tips on painting with water based paint I would advocate buying the best quality colours and brushes that you can afford and learn how to stretch your paper before painting on it.
Your next book is entitled JigSaw please can you tell us a bit about the book and the body of work you created for it?
I have as yet only produced approximately twenty pictures for this project.
The full title will likely be ‘JigSaw Empirical’. As the title suggests; it is to be based on observation and experience. It is the jigsaw of life, the something that all of use experience, that maze of living our lives. In this case the focus is on my own visual and worded reflections with regards to what I have observed and encountered.
Do you have a particular work that means the most to you and if yes why?
For myself, that special piece of work is ever changing. Making that choice today, it would have to be: ‘The Ocean’s Doorstep’
This is a watercolour study from my recent collection of pictures, (as yet not exhibited) but published via Amazon in book form. The project title is
‘Three Rivers & An Ocean’. This can be viewed online as an eBook at:
|Three Rivers eBook
Three Rivers eBook
I give this picture preference because of its simplicity and timelessness.
How do you see the natural evolution of your work over the next few years?
At my age a few years seems like too far to plan ahead.
What has pleased me most over the past couple of years has been seeing more than a few of my artworks being auctioned and the proceeds going to worthy charities. Through the trust that I have set up, I hope that this scenario may continue long after I am in Elysium.
Where next will we be able go to see your work?
At this moment in time I have no future exhibitions planned.
I am a fervent believer that no artwork is complete until it has had an audience so I try to keep my website up-to-date with current pictures and experiments and comments are always welcome
|Making Pictures by Al Cazu (Alan Williamson) I Artist I …
“Even after all these years, I am still unsure whether or not this drive to make drawings and do some colouring in is an Olympian gift or some accursed damnation.
Thank you for this interview and the opportunity to rationalize my work. I hope that my answers are of interest and possibly helpful to aspiring artists.