I am going to update this page every so often, with more details about the new crop of figurative paintings than you will find under the 2023 postings. Almost like my blog, where you will find a lot more detail, also about walking and finding these subjects.
2nd September 2023
This is a page from my Ivory (Daler Rowney) A4 sketchbook, which I’ve been using to try out ideas from walks. In November 2022 I walked up Birnam hill near Dunkeld with my daughter and a couple of her friends from St Andrews University (they are all lecturers), Zoe and Vivienne. We had a cup of tea and cake at the top and looked at the views. It was harder work walking down than up, I think because we were walking down into the valley so it was a lot steeper. This image is from the top, I snapped Zoe snapping Bims, but the view was the main item.
The runny granulating watercolours worked so well I decided to try to reproduce that with acrylic on canvas.
Having got so far I hid it away in the finished stack for a couple of months.
You can see in this photo the edge of the fine linen, so how the glaze medium and acrylic paint behave on both surfaces. I use acrylic gesso watered down to stick the linen to the canvas, and then there is an uneven coating on the linen. Sometimes I put another coat on it, to have a white ground, sometimes I use it to knock out something I don’t want. It’s a drier surface than the commercial canvas primer.
I had stuck my by now trade-mark torn up wrapper paper on quite a lot of it, but when I looked at it again I couldn’t see any words on it, and the brush marks were much broader than I wanted.
So I worked back into it with more gesso, glazing medium and colour, and a lot of water.
Each stage took twenty four hours to dry
I added scraps of two poems, one in fact about a different hill, Lucklaw. All the water made the paper collage wrinkle.
But the watery effects make marks that are mysterious and soft.
Very like watercolour.
Then the centre of the painting became a big question mark. I did not want to continue to copy the watercolour sketch, but as it stood there was a rather uninteresting green christmas tree shape in the middle. In the end I played with placing torn up work on paper from almost two years ago on it, and I think it was a worthy sacrifice. The collage does something else completely to to the painted space and the space of the painting, it restricts and protects, separates and binds together. And it has some nice brush-marks too!
14th June 2023
The light of the north calling them (snow on the hills), 2023, acrylic and collaged linen and paper on canvas, 100 x 100 x 5 cm
This painting evolved from a thickly painted abstract that I couldn’t tame, so I stuck two layers of linen over the parts I didn’t like.
So the painting has this very three-dimensional division between the abstract and the more-or-less figurative.
I put this collaged paper on across the divide to break it up a bit
and the runs of watery gesso link that part together. But it still took me several weeks of turning it this way and that, and starting things which didn’t work out until I found this specific time and landscape – it was Christmas day 2015 – which had so much of the abstract in it.
and then the title came from printing out a couple of recent poems and using bricolage poetry techniques to edit some excerpts which I stuck on and glazed over.
The light of the north calling them,
“journey under changing constellations” wrapped around the edge of the stretcher, and “here where I am” further down.
26th April 2023
A vision in the forest, 2023, acrylic and collaged linen and paper on canvas, 100 x 100 x 5 cm
if you click on an image it will pop up a slightly smaller slide-show which is better for viewing on a laptop, although then you will miss the explanatory text. All the images are titled though.
the whole painting
and in a virtual black frame
detail of a section painted on the fine raw unbleached linen with multiple glazes used like watercolour.
detail of a section painted over collage and thickly trailed acrylic.
more detail of linen and paper collage painted over.
detail of the figures.
here are several watercolour sketches towards more figurative work.
I take a lot of photos with my iphone, especially with the hipstamatic app, and some of these are really part of the basis for the figurative creeping into my paintings. This painting took a bit more decision- making and painting over some things I didn’t like, plus the first glaze I put on was too coloured, and there was a lot of fiddling with that to get it right.
you can see there are references to German romantic paintings of the nineteenth century.
For several years, Caspar David Friedrich has been a buzz-word between me and my daughter in these immense Scottish forests, woods and plantations. So no wonder I have, almost unconsciously, been photographing her and her husband, and some other people, dwarfed by trees on our walks.