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'It is the shape of objects rather than the details within them that determines whether an image is successful.'
Ann Cartwright has argued that the 4-year period from about 1977 marked one of transition for Reg’s paintings – during this phase he built on the naïve elements in his earlier work to evolve his own distinctive style:
'His figures take on a photographic realism which is often combined with features from the naïve style and at other times shapes which are leaning towards abstraction … Cartwright felt it was false to paint in a naïve style when he was capable of painting realistically. But he also thought it pointless to paint realism when this could be achieved by the camera.'*
*Ann Cartwright, To What Extent is Reg Cartwright a Naïve Painter? (undated), p. 23, RAC/16
Ann has explained that ideas for their children’s books often came from ‘walks in the countryside’ and Reg has said that artistic inspiration for buildings, people and events in the books’ illustrations all came from local life*. From about 1980, Reg began to produce a series of paintings of the surrounding countryside, those who worked in it and the machinery they used. There is no sentimentalism in his portrayal of the agricultural workers. ‘The curvilinear forms of figures and animals contrast with the geometrics of the buildings and machinery**’, with their areas of flat colour. Ann refers to this phase as Reg’s ‘Middle Period’ and comments that, ‘he developed his individual style through formal planes and geometrics which used a more flat application of the medium than in his early work**’.
* Steve Thomas-Emberson , ‘Happy Endings’ in The Artist, (January 1997), p. 25, RAC/13
**Ann Cartwright, To What Extent is Reg Cartwright a Naïve Painter? (undated), p. 28 & p. 42, RAC/16
'Cartwright has … learnt to worry less about detail, as he now believes that it is the shape of objects rather than the details within them that determines whether an image is successful.'*
*Frances Quinn, Extended Comparative Essay based on a recorded interview with Reg Cartwright, (undated), p. 3, RAC/16