Saturday, 22 July 2017

The anatomy of a painting

I have just completed a new painting using plaster and paper on board.



I thought it might be interesting to log its journey to becoming what it has finally become.

The origin of it - the genesis if you like, began a few weeks ago on a walk from Hawes in the Dales to Hardraw Force.

To understand where an idea for my paintings comes from I must explain that it involves the whole experience of being in a specific physical place but also what is going on in my mind at that time.
I see life and life experiences as being part of a journey, a story if you like so one experience is not divorced from another, indeed past experiences inform the present.


Moor Rig in glorious isolation

I had been enthralled by the wildness of our lodgings for the 2 weeks, the cottage was very remote and it felt like a bulwark against the elements, a safe haven. The wildlife in the immediate area was abundant, especially the bird life. I had also been reading a books about garden making, and the painter Graham Sutherland and 'H is for Hawk' by Helen Macdonald.

Bookshop find in Hawes - Graham Sutherland

The captivating but challenging read of H is for Hawk


So I had images, sounds, and words. I have been grappling with mortality in the midst of the abundance of life. I felt the passage of time and a visceral sense of being flesh blood and bone. I saw a Hen Harrier hunt through the tall grasses, and later found the legs and feathers of a dismembered grouse chick.
You feel small in wild places.

The waterfall Hardraw Force was awe inspiring. The steep sided gorge forms a bowl or cup shape receiving the narrow fall of water from above. You feel enclosed and vulnerable - on the edge of life.

I thought of grief, of loss and of the speed of the human life span in contrast to the slow processes of geology. I realise that humans need other humans to feel comforted and secure. But sadly there is so much that separates.

I thought of Christ and his separation from God in order to break down the barriers we build between us and the spirit.

I made a sketch there at the waterfall - I was not looking for an exact copy of what was before me, I wanted to capture the sense of enclosure. I did take photographs as a reference point in reality.






I wrote a lot in my diary about the experiences of the place and the books I had been reading.

Bringing that all together - on a fine and warm day in my garden I finally put pencil to the paper I had glued on to thin board. This is a fraught and vulnerable time as it could go wrong, but there is also anticipation and excitement. From the base sketch, roughing out the composition and feeling the cup shaped space of the waterfall in heavy line, I added the wet liquid plaster with a brush, building up the walls of the gorge.




Once dry - pigments including watercolour, charcoal, ink, oil pastel were added in layers. I roughly framed the result, then left it for a day or so - so that I could see it properly.




I decided that there was more plaster needed, and a darkening of pigments and the background.

A title emerged from the whole experience - take the cup.





So there it is.

Paul.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Dales diary


Hardraw Force


I have just returned from 2 weeks in the Yorkshire Dales - wild and wildlife rich uplands. I took my sketchbook diary to record my thoughts and responses to the landscape, but began to wonder whether I really am an artist. I do have the paper that says I gained a Fine Art Degree but does that really make me an artist ? Does it really matter ? Probably not - what matters to me is that making drawings and writing help me to make sense of the world.












I found a book in a second hand bookshop documenting the work of Graham Sutherland, I love his works on paper - shapes found in the landscape translated into drawing and painting. I've glued some paper to board in preparation for more experimental work with plaster , charcoal and acrylic ink based on the landscapes of the dales - just for the joy of it.

Paul