There is such catharsis with condemning a painting, watching it being smothered by layers of gesso. I do not mourn its disappearance or the hours of labour given to it. I love the opportunity of beginning again. Like a lover that fell out of favour, you recognise the mistakes that were, move on and vow not to succumb to those errors again.
Put in another few hours on the current piece today and a useful juncture for me to explain a bit more about motivation and process. Switching to a new (to me) technique which goes imprimatura> piambura> verdaccio> final glazes. Well, if it was good enough for the Masters, it's good enough for me to have a whirl with :) Currently on the third working of piambura, which is using white to gradually build up form and shadow. Now, to an explanation...
The image on the left was a three hour alla prima painting I did some weeks ago - the immediacy is, of course, great for speed but it's to the detriment of the finer nuances of flesh and underlying anatomy. It's quite clumsy when you look at it. The image on the right is where I'm currently at with the rework.
There is a considered subtledty in piambura, where you are painting in a much more sculptural way (for want of a better description) - teasing out the slight shadow cast by a hip on the turn; softening the structure of a clavicle through gently instating the flesh that covers it; delicately observing the weight of gravity upon the body; finding the very edge of the deepest gradient of value needed before the darks of the shadows; sinking those shadows down further with burnt umber. Constantly assessing, and re-assessing, light, form and hidden structure.
I'm often asked why I usually paint nudes. The explanation is, perhaps, articulated best through the process I've just described of the piambura stage.
Albeit rarely, I have such vivid dreams that play out in an almost cinematic form. They affect an emotional response and stay alive in my memory for hours after waking from them. I could try and decipher their meaning, but that's of less interest to me than the ideas that can spin out of them.
The absolute definition of the surrounding landscape, the sounds within it. The underlying emotions played out spinning a web which ensnared the audible narration that ran over the unfolding scene. That there was a narration at all, described from the subject's perspective in her voice, was so bizarre yet beautiful. The switching from first to third person views. Haunting and dark, a sense of helplessness followed by rescue and safety. A tempest fading to calm.
This is all of the narration I can remember. There are gaps; perhaps it was meant to be remembered like that:
It was just me and Blue. Blue was constant and consistent. I went to her when I was in need of space from the world.
Blue sang her rolling lullaby as I drifted from consciousness to the darkness. It would not be long now.
It was L who found me. He drove for four hours, scouring the coast until he spotted the car on the headland. He knew I'd gone to find Blue. He found me drenched in sweat and wrapped in self-loathing and held me and told me it would be alright. He kept me alive that dark night.
Morphing spaces: the shapeshifters of the built environment. Some of the most interesting of these rise from the embers of industry: desolate workshops, abandoned factories, empty shops. They're the raw canvas where someone's already made the first mark, their beautifully scarred interiors beckoning for reinvention. The antithesis of high-gloss and polished and the connotations of status and wealth that come with that kind of sheen, they enjoy the comfort of sitting firmly in the bosom of anti-plush territory.
I'm increasingly interested in how the re-purposing of such spaces can incorporate creative/cultural activities which push communities back into conversations and interactions, away from the comfort of the screens we're so used to.
Two spaces that really caught my interest previously were Kartel and The Chop Shop. Both offer spaces for artists to work or exhibit and bridge this with social connection, bringing others into the space to share an experience. It's the cross between community and culture that has an interesting counterbalance to the encroachment on our localities of replication and monotony. The opportunity for conversations to occur - a local cultural dialogue - may be one of the things we all need to try and support to sustain a shared collective richness in our individual diversity in a world full of branding and competition.
So, how can communities independently build a dynamic environment for creatives to enter, thrive, move on and for the voids to be filled when some of them outgrow their nest? How is this achieved sustainably, both financially and environmentally, when many creatives may not have the expertise to deal with the money men or the leaky roof? Is the only answer to be under a corporate umbrella or is there another way?
Permanent Sap Green
Yellow Ochre Deep
With each brushstroke, we add or subtract, create or decay, clarify or abstract.
Notes to self:
- Lost and found edges
- Light and dark
- Limit palette 3/4
- Pick the battle line
- Subtle shifts in hue to maintain critical elements
- Maintain the balance between key shapes. Watch for overcompensation.
- Surface and form