As I start another painting to join the growing number in the store over the garage, I remember my pride being dented when I discovered the first of my college paintings, proudly taken home to my parents, had been used to block up a hole in the garden fence. Critics can be quite scathing, can’t they?
In this painting I have continued to use making drawings deconstructing the square to explore the colour, much as I did in the last ‘Poppy’. That was the 3rd Poppy canvas, and it is strange how they all came out looking as if they could be stills from Star Wars (judge for yourself by looking at the flower paintings in the gallery). I have enjoyed the drawing process and results alike, a very different aesthetic despite springing from the photographs taken in the garden. I haven’t the patience to draw images in the kind of detail I can capture with the camera, and its use has made me realise how subjective our view of colour can be these days as we absorb so much through digital media rather than first-hand experience, something I explored here.
So, the colour exploration goes on before I start the canvas so by the time I start working I have an image of where I want to go. That image is structural though, so the colour can still surprise me at the end much as the 1960’s flower power imagery of the Poppy 3 painting did. Shouldn’t have been a surprise but it was.
The latest canvas will pick up on the deconstruction of the grid. The grid has been a part of my work since my second year at Corsham way back when time began, and it has moved from being the abstract subject itself, through a mechanical device for enlarging (as in the Renaissance), then into a relationship with the flower image. It has remained a way of allowing me to play with the depth of the picture plane, with the colour and tonal relationships, and the nature of the mark.
The grid has been a structure to prevent the collapse into realism on one side ( I have my photography for that) and abstract expressionism on the other, where I find myself struggling to understand the intellectual coherence, if any, of the emotional piles produced. Now the mark is rising to begin to break down this visual box, the strongest geometric form. My game is allowing the colour to flood from one box to another, to continue to try to create surfaces that are seductively jewelled and where image and colour fight to define the illusory space created.
In previous pieces, such as the one on the Brexit Daisy, I have described the grid as a part of accidental politics. As I have been spending longer and longer submerged in the studio, surrounded by paint and pastels, smelling the aroma of both, scrabbling, scratching, brushing, scrubbing away at the layers I apply I have become more and more detached from the Urb, from the concerns of the Hive (the piece on which has now reached over 60,000 readers). More and more I am becoming absorbed in my studio life, perhaps one could say more parochial – whatever it is the work is coming more from my inner self now than it has ever done.
The process of painting changes and evolve. Much of what I do is on paper, partly because it is faster and partly because without the importance, or presence, of being on a stretcher it frees me up to play and bin. With oil sticks a couple of quid, compared to ten times that for a tube of colour, sometimes £35 – £40 for a tube that vanishes (along with others) in an afternoon, it is affordable. How do people sell framed pieces for £25 as so many seem to do?
Drawing is part of the mythmaking whilst the canvas draws together the game towards a set of rules and a finished statement. All I need is to figure out what game it is I’m playing here…