I wanted to do a post before I head back to uni, because this painting that I’ve started over the holidays has proved very helpful for understanding my own methodology.
As are most of my pieces, this was a working composition and colour scheme, this latest stage being achieved largely by trial and error and learning “on the canvas”. I began by working towards a naturalistic colour scheme ie blue sky, grey stone, but it’s near on impossible to portray invisible forces when I’m tuned into the visible and mundane. So I painted over everything with a translucent brown glaze, and further darkened some areas. This served to compress the range of luminosity and give me more room to maneuver, whilst making my previous marks useful as an underpainting. From then on I have largely ignored the natural colours.
Through this painting alone I have discovered several important things that I can apply to my new direction:
- I unfailingly paint too light too quickly, but darkening the scene with glazes remedies this.
- I am not interested in naturalistic colour schemes. Whilst the basis may be natural, it is the invisible forces like chaos and chance that fascinates me, so I will dispense with my concern with the visible.
- I paint better as soon as I forget to care about why I am painting in what way.
- Learning whilst doing is more valuable than a sketchbook.
The undisturbed image is now complete, and it hasn’t come easy at all. It’s been a working painting in many ways, having been revised several times already, and this is just the context. I’m pulling in new influences, most notably Peter Doig and Adrian Ghenie, and learning through trial and error the best way to approach the layering. I don’t have a linear, ordered way of thinking – it’s more like a series of impulses in reaction to opportunities, so this was incredibly difficult for me. It’s a successful painting in itself, but just painting landscapes is so incredibly bland, and even with the “chaos characters” I’m going to introduce tomorrow, I sometimes find myself doubting it’s relevance in the contemporary sphere.
I’ve been working on a very large canvas recently, and after finding out the process wasn’t really lending itself very well to my aims, I switched it up and decided to work on board instead whilst the canvas is drying.
What I’m looking for is a way of cutting away the layers to reveal the light underneath, something which I cannot do if I put down a mid-tone colour base on a canvas using oil paint. So instead I primed a MDF board and coated it in white oil-based eggshell paint, meaning I can peel back the layers on top to get the light back – a process which worked very well in my drawing work.
Something which I’ve had input on is that I resolve my work too quickly, and by doing so I don’t give them room to develop through layers. That’s something I’m really trying to focus on with this piece, and probably with the canvas too, having recently painted over it with the white eggshell for a fresh start.
I’m taking some new influences such as Adrian Ghenie, whos layered painted work is absolutely phenomenal, as well as Peter Doig, who adopts a different technique but a similar rigor of depth. I’m also looking into Francis Bacon and Gerhard Richter, along with a couple others. I’m already seeing more success with this method, and I have to say it’s proving to be intuitive for me, which is always a good sign.
The name for this project is taken from the “cartesian plane” co-ordinate system in mathematics, a grid which resembles the kind of grid I am using to overlay the geometric marks. This working series is entitled “Cartesian Plains” because I’m investigating landscape and nothing is above puns.
Oil painting based off one of the figures from my chance based group of formations
I generated the colours with chance, choosing one for background, light, and dark. This was an effort to investigate the detail in the figures, but I think it loses a lot of it’s initial qualities being isolated like this, and I think colour is best kept to a group of predetermined choices, rather than left completely to open chance.
I do like the dynamic between the two colour of the figure though, it implies iridescence. In a way, the odd combination and the unpleasantness of the combinations helps to portray the mercilessness of chance, capable of making or breaking a piece of work in an instant.
I think it broke it.
I tried experimenting with Liquin for this, which turned into a very expensive experiment, but lets not talk about that.
Taking the idea of the previous one forward into oils, I wanted to enter colour into the equation, so I randomly generated two hex codes: one was a hot pink which I tried my best to mix, and one was the most repugnant colour I think I have ever come across. But the whole idea would be defeated if I consciously chose to change the colour to something more aesthetically pleasing, so I stuck with it.
The method was very similar to the other method, with a four sided dice determining the orientation, but the different qualities of the oil paint in relation to the ink created a drastically different effect:
- Since the oil paint took a lot longer to drip, it was still in motion by the next change of orientation, so each turn affected every cell before it, as well as itself. The ink didn’t do this because it plummeted down the paper leaving its mark almost instantly.
- This slower motion meant that the drips created “subdrips(?)” when the orientation was changed, and went in all four directions in some cases, creating a spidery circuit board kind of effect.
- The Liquin made the oil paint dry very quickly, meaning that new paint dripping onto it wouldn’t blend, but make a new layer.
- Further to right it gets, the drips become more dramatic, swallowing up the negative pink space behind it, I’m not certain why this happened but I think it could be because I left the painting in the same orientation for a long while after the last cell had been painted. (I rolled a dice to determine which side to leave it on)
One other thing which I noticed is that the piece looks balanced, and the composition doesn’t drag your eye to any particular are first. Almost like an accidental Jackson Pollock…but worse. In a way that displays the fairness of chance (at least in this instance).
I will probably work into it when the oil is dry, and create some dramatically different structures with it, much more angular and less organic.
If ever you think your house would look good with a pink and gold colour scheme, look no further than this painting for your answer.
I need to stop looking at it now because it’s truly disgusting.
The summer brief was Found Objects, and I’ve been experimenting with different materials and different pieces of stuff I can find. Its a pretty wide brief and I like it that way, freeeeeedom.
Tried working from dark to light (which I think is the consensus for oil paint despite my watercolour training dictating the opposite), and I really like it! It has a kind of crystalline quality.