With the BRotS #20 completed it was time to move on to canvas. You’ll know from my previous piece how I see the division between the research works on paper and what I regard as the more formal realisation of ideas on canvas – the mythmaking and then the ritual. Through the paper experiments I have been playing with high textures, with variations on the priming and finally with some heavy underpainting, occasionally adding thin swipes of oil pastel to pick up on the ridges of the textures, modulating the colours.
The studio has been terrific to work in after the reorganisation spurred by the last ArtWave before lockdown, and any regret I may have had at it being a gallery for a month has evaporated at the improved working layout that has resulted. Through September, October and into November I have worked steadily every day quickly exploring ideas and techniques that continue to demand my focus.
As the weather has changed the studio has been warm and weather proof, resisting storm and tempest, much quieter for having had the overhanging tree trimmed so that the branches no longer frighten the hell out of me banging on the roof in a strong wind. The cheap heater (£23 from B&Q) has worked far better than the more expensive IKEA oil filled contraptions, so I have been quite snug working away.
As I have worked through the months though the way in which I paint has developed. Apart from the colour variations I continually introduce in responding to the colour observed in the jetty, the paint textures have thickened, layers deepened, and the characteristics created by the tools I am using have changed. To my surprise these are also affected by the weather, the primary variation being the speed at which the paint dries. Yeah, I know, seems obvious doesn’t it? But I have been using acrylic as thin veils of colour in my previous paintings and now I am splodging it on thickly. Good technical term that, splodging.
Whilst I am no longer working in the small tight confines of taped off areas characterised by the ‘Seaford Fuchsia’, I am still taping out areas to work on. The thick paint raised issues with getting a good edge as the corrugations I create in application allow ‘bleeds’ of adjacent colour. To a certain extent I allow this as it reflects the rough rusty edges on my subject, but the issue is compounded by the slow drying, where the thick paint can be dry to the touch by have enough damp in it to reject the tape. This seems more of an issue on canvas than it is on paper, despite both having the same application of gesso ground.
The lighting in the studio is panels of LED’s. Brilliant in their simulation of daylight, giving the same lux values and accurate colour rendition ( see more in my blog on lighting). The light is the same level and I have never understood how the variation of colour seen as daylight changes perception can be acceptable in a studio or gallery. There is one downside to this brightly lit environment, and that happens as you step outside. On a bright summers day there is little perceivable difference between vision in the studio and as I step into the garden beyond. It becomes quite different after dusk which of course is happening early afternoon now we enter the winter seasons.
I have a line of solar lights in the garden but both because they are getting old (2 years is old for a solar light?) and combined with their getting little sun, their light is reduced to a grey glimmer. The inevitable happened a couple of nights ago. I navigated the path from glimmer to glimmer, but the end lamp is bracketed by a pair of very large plant pots that were invisible to me, with my eyes still adjusting after the light of the studio.
Over I went, base over apex, breaking my fall with my arm. Fortunately, the regular morning workouts that I do have given me good upper body muscle strength and I bounced. However, my shin which hit the pot with force was scraped through to the shin bone. I have a painfully sprained wrist and my shin wound was dressed by a charming nurse at the Lewes UTC. I’ll heal, and of course there is a moral to this story. You guessed it – buy a torch. I now have three. One each end of my walk and a spare. I know, I should have had one before. At least the paint has now had time to dry properly.