It is always a pleasure to show Lar Cann’s exciting work in the gallery, both in his own right and as part of the Plymouth Society of Artists.
He has been a member of the PSA since his student days and has served on its executive and selection committee since the mid-1980s.
Lar was invited to become a member of the St Ives Society of Artists in 2005, appointed Chairman from 2008 – 11. He was elected an Academician to the South West Academy of Fine and Applied Arts in 2006 and is a full life-member of the Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall.
Lar will be showing work as part of our Christmas exhibition this year.
Q&A with Lar
How did you start making art? / Why do you make art?
I think it’s often the case that an inspiring teacher has a profound influence in ones formative years but with my memories at both primary and secondary levels I would say this was not particularly so. I find it hard to pin down any specific trigger, any defining stimulus. It’s more likely to have been the sustained encouragement there in my family background – nothing overt, just a gentle but indefinable feeling of support. I’m not aware of any genetic heritage though my mother had a drawing ability. It was a sort of intellectual parallel to my Grandfather’s craft skills. She certainly sacrificed much to allow me six years of tertiary education. I suppose I continue to paint because it’s never really occurred to me to do anything different.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
‘A brush’ would be the unsurprising answer.
But to elaborate I should say that, more correctly, it would be my hands that manage and manipulate a brush. I’m a ‘leftie’, not really ambidextrous but quite often use my right hand as well.
That’s not a glib answer and one that needs a bit of explanation. From a very early age I enjoyed the company of my Grandfather, an inventive and imaginative man who had a veritable Aladdins Cave to a pre-teenager – his backyard workshop. I had a free run of this but there were a few serious caveats to any activity I might have in mind when in there. One of these was not being allowed to touch any tool until he had shown me how it should be used, but properly.
All the tools I use now, hand or powered, still benefit from those fundamental lessons, and that includes a brush.
How do you know when a work is finished?
The start of anything is the easy bit – a blank surface, canvas or paper, inviting the first marks. In my case it will always be Prussian Blue, spattered onto the support and laying down the fundamentals of the composition. I’m very conscious of composition at this stage and the first four lines being established by the edges of the canvas.
My difficulty with most pieces is usually in a middle period and trying to consolidate the idea. By that I mean balancing and adjusting tone and colour values within the planar structure without allowing the surface to become fatigued. Overworking is a constant trap, particularly as I work with multiple glazes in the main and have to think several layers ahead. Maintaining a spontaneous freshness is the holy grail, so being alert to happy accidents is paramount. Using them often signals the piece coming to a conclusion. At this point it will be defining my often-used leitmotiv of the circular forms. Though these are laid down from the start they will have been partially obliterated during the middle stages and need to be re-found. But that will always be conditional on what has evolved in the meantime. Normally very little else happens to a piece after this.
Feeling the love
James and the team always provide a bespoke service of the highest standard for our framed Raiders merchandise. The attention to detail is fantastic
My expectation in framing is straightforward, though exacting. It needs to be impeccably crafted and not detract from the work with unnecessary embellishment, but support and enhance it with an elegant simplicity. I get this from 'the team' at The Framing Centre. The bonus is that it is all done with a ready acceptance of the quirky one-off; no hint of working to a well-trodden format here. This flexibilty is perfect for my needs and they have been my framers of choice for the past eight years.