I’m busy working on a commission for a painting. It is a larger version of the circular ring formed paintings that I have been working on for a while now. For me it is also a fairly large-scale work, measuring 120cm across and that hole in the middle being about 62cm.
The most recent smaller versions have often been essentially the bringing together of two colours, built up in numerous layers to gain an intensity of colour that causes the optical effects of the composition to work best. The initial layers being put on with acrylic paint and the later ones being oil for a better surface finish and greater depth to the colour.
For this larger work I decided to continue with the dark blues that I have been experimenting with and rely on Windsor Blue being layered on top of Cerulean Blue and just a touch of Phthalo Green. The green part though has been something of a new area for me. I’ve been working this area up with a mixture of Permanent Green Light and Cadmium Yellow.
So far so good, but then comes those final layers of glazed oil paint to bring the surface quality to where I want it to be. This has sent be deep into the bottom of box of oil paints looking for the appropriate shade of green. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t often use green. A fact that was confirmed by the discovery of the 37ml tube of Cadmium Green made by Windsor and Newton that I plan to use. The paper covering of the tube has yellowed with time, it took a while to get the cap off the tube, but inside the colour was fine. I’ve bought many tubes of paint over the years, most of which I can’t remember where and when I got them. But this one is an exception, it is a last remaining tube (along with a tube of violet, what I also rarely use) that remain from a set I was given when I started my Fine Art degree at Wimbledon School of Art in 1987.
Thirty-two years on this Cadmium Green is finally to see the light of day and edge my painting towards its own finishing line in 2019.
When time is short, particularly studio time, it is difficult to remain patient. The feeling that every second counts as you try to squeeze creative time in amongst other, mostly work related, activities is a challenge. This is particularly the case when you are learning new skills, skills that you need before interesting results might roll out. The question of whether you are investing time that in the end will prove fruitless always nagging at the back of your mind.
This is very much the case when it comes to printmaking. Whilst an art student I spent a little time in the print room learning the basics. Since then though, well, nothing at all. Earlier in the year I bought myself a small lino press because I suspected that my current work might offer some possibilities to produce some prints. I’ve had a few sessions making some initial attempts, with limited success. Today I have been busy again, and for the first time I have looked at the results and thought that there are indeed possibilities to produce some interesting images. I’m not there yet, but am on the way I feel. More patience and more experimentation in the weeks ahead, maybe we’ll get there.
Combining education and producing your own work isn’t always an easy an combination. You often find yourself saying next week will be quieter, there’ll be more time then. Then a week later…..well, you get the picture.
In the last couple of days I’ve been making an extra effort to find my way back into my studio practice, finishing of paintings that were near to completion, drawing out the next plans and documenting photographically where I am currently up to. The images here are a series of six ring formed canvases that I have been working on. I suspect there might still be more in this fruitful series, but at the same time the current drawings I’m making are hinting at new areas and forms that these geometric and tree based motifs are heading.
These are quite labour intensive works, built up of numerous layers of paint, and each is accompanied my drawing, collage and digital work to plan out the possibilities.
The fact that I’m sharing the progress of these paintings is an indication that I’m feeling pretty content with the progress. In the photograph it does all look very graphic, a quality that comes over a little less in the actual work. Inevitably the smaller scale works on paper progress at a higher tempo.
It’s the end of the school week and in my studio a canvas is ready, primed and the initial preparation work is done for the beginning to be made on an idea for a painting that has been rattling around in my head for the last six weeks. My working process is often quite slow and methodical paintings tend to unfold over weeks and months rather than hours and days. I’ve learnt to be patient in this regard. Studio time is always a balance between my three days a week educational work and any number of other commitments.
I feel excited by the work ahead. The concept for the painting is incredibly clear in my head, I’ve worked the plan out in a series of drawings and plans on the computer. In many ways it is simply a question of execution of the idea. Although ‘simply’ is a little deceptive. The plan as it stands looks likely to be quite a labour intensive process and as anyone involved in the creative arts all sorts of things will, and do, happen along the way.
I’ve been working on a series of drawings and digital works that for now are entitled Manipulated Nature. They all involve the alteration of situations and views that I come across in my surroundings and relate to how we view and adjust the world around us, sometimes for practical reasons, sometimes for aesthetc and sometimes it would seem, for little reason at all. The way the Dutch landscape in particular is used and abused is maybe particularly extreme in the area of manipulation.
The drawing shown here is one of a series of tree images that hopefully with time may become paintings, although I suspect before we get that far there are som technical issues to be addressed as to how to make something that works well as a drawing, also work well as a painting.
If you are interested enough to see a few more pieces of my work click on the ‘paintings’ link above.
I haven’t posted a reflection on a day working on my own work for a while. Various reasons, the inevitable intrusion of other activities being the most significant of reasons. Still, the work goes on, even if it is not as speedy in its production as I would desire.
Today I’ve been working on the two images shown here. Both are, essentially built of the same components; a sky, a bowing coloured wall in the foreground and distorted by perspective verticals that in the drawing on the left are trees and in the painting on the right have been reduced to single fine lines. Also in both cases there is an ambiguity in whether the ‘wall’ is standing in the landscape or whether the landscape is possibly a sort of theatrical backdrop that has been painted or pasted onto the wall and now appears to be becoming separated from the surface creating the illusion that it is bending in space. The way in which the verticals are, well not vertical, play into the visual uncertainty.
When starting these pieces I thought that the drawing with the four tree trunks was just an experiment for myself, to prove that I was going the way of the greatly reduced ‘trees’ in the curved painting with its red wall. But having worked on the drawing with the trees today I am less certain. I think there is still work to be done to strengthen the drawing, particularly in darkening it to make it heavier, but maybe there are still possibilities worth exploring here.
Two or three times a year I go either away on holiday or a short break. Mostly these trips involve a lot of outside time, often in quite remote places. About five or six years ago I started to take a sketchbook with me, on reflection I think this was because my own work as an artist had become increasingly related to the landscape and I think that I thought that by more careful observation of it I might actually learn something.
That was six years ago and my work still very definitely has a landscape connection to it and I continue to take just a small black hardback book with me, either A5 or A6 and a small set of twelve watercolours, a pencil, a brush and a black fine liner pen.
What I do on these trips does in one way or another feed back into more carefully worked out ideas, but it has also become something in its own right. I have never thought of myself as a great technician, certainly not when it comes to a material such as watercolour, but I do enjoy the challenge and speed of it all, as I pause for a few minutes with my family most often as company.
I have just come to the end of a two week break from teaching, the first week was spent in good weather in the landscapes and forests around where I live in the Netherlands, the second week over the border into the Eifel in Germany.
The resulting filled pages will certainly never be exhibited, so a post on my blog certainly seems a good alternative.
Posted in Uncategorized
- Tagged art, drawing, forest, hills, mountains, sketchbook, small scale, travelling, trees, watercolor, watercolour