Monthly Archives: March 2015

17. Kill it with fire!

A new approach to presentation encourages a new approach to painting. Firstly, in producing and presenting paintings one at a time I am inclined to be more liberal with the things I make. Within the existing structures that have been most successful I have been able to throw in the odd experiment, safe in the knowledge that when I do they are protected somewhat by their companions and have a fair chance of coming out alright. Dividing the paintings into individuals rather than lumping them together in a series means there isn’t anywhere to hide. I may previously have tucked the odd ‘not the best’ examples in amongst a bunch of others hoping they will benefit from the ‘cheerleader effect’. Now however, each must live on its own merits and cannot hide in the group.

This along with the need to repost all my old work has lead me to re-examine my back catalogue and, as it turns out, make some tricky decisions. Those paintings which have not found new homes and which I do not feel are the best examples of their kind are now subject to a cull. A destructive edit to raise the mean average quality and to reduce the volume of items I feel there is too little value in storing.

This is nothing out of the ordinary. I am aware of artists who ensured their legacy would be just as they intended by destroying many of the works in their archive that they deemed of inferior quality. Similarly some artist estates have embarked on a quiet cull in order to permanently remove from circulation any pieces that would not benefit the artist’s reputation if they were to come onto the market. In most cases the editing tool of choice was fire (which seems a bit heavy handed to me, but then I suppose it depends how much you have to dispose of). Naturally, I recycle stretchers and only ditch the old canvas. Paintings on board deemed surplus to requirements become raw materials in my daughter’s craft box (not too helpful in terms of storage, but in my eyes this instantly enhances their value). Mercifully I have been able to avoid building funeral pyres so far.

And I have found a spring clean like this adding to my enjoyment of the undertaking as a whole. I think ongoing reviews of what I have done must be a good thing, helping avoid complacency by offering a reminder that even in this ‘uncritiqueable’ body of work there is still a difference between the appeal of one painting and another. With a bit of luck it will also ensure there is little boxed up and stored away that I’ll be disappointed to open up in years to come.

You have been watching…

A few explanatory notes on paintings I have recently posted:

Too many dinner parties. This painting is part of the Preachinin a language that’s completely new series – hence a straightforward covering of the canvas in a singe colour –but it differs slightly insofar as it has a final, semi transparent ‘pea-soup’ glaze over the rich gold impasto acrylic. The colours seemed an unusual, perhaps unpleasant, mucky, combination, which in my book is reason enough.

Ha! He’ll be eaten alive! Again from the Preachin’ series, in this case once the multiple coats of emulsion were almost complete I poked at the canvas from the back, cracking the thick, brittle surface in those areas I could access (the rectangle in the centre not shielded by the stretcher). The now slack painting was then given a final coat of emulsion to retighten it (the drying process of paint is constrictive, particularly in water based paints. As the carrier is lost through evaporation the surface contracts and can pull a loose canvas taught), and this tidied up a messy surface, while retaining the cracked texture. Finally I gave the whole thing a coat of varnish. In hindsight the varnish may have been unnecessary as I’m not sure it improved the appearance. You live and learn.

The Pervert Upstairs I. Making this painting was the result of failure elsewhere. Attempts to replicate the Time Gentlemen, Please approach using gloss paint, wet on wet, didn’t work. They looked wrong. However, they reaffirmed a pleasant paint behaviour – the liquid movement of gloss and the slight change in fine form as two colours settle together. The approach is once more in line with the Preachinpaintings, the basic aim of the activity being coverage of the entire canvas, but using a second colour, hastily brushed through an existing wet ground. The result is a painting exhibiting clear evidence of a roughly scrubbed application, but as the 2 colours sit together they shift and settle ever so slightly producing a beautiful marbling liquid effect, the overall structure and composition of which is set by the brushwork. It retains its minimally considered appearance, the movement of the paint not being enough to obscure evidence of the manner of application, but it develops a glorious natural fluidity as the thick, sticky liquid naturally levels out.