Monday, 2 July 2007
OK, I know, not much for anyone to get their teeth into lately. I shocked myself when I figured out that it had been three weeks since I last threw paint onto canvas. Outrageous.
The thing is, I find on the run up to a show things accelerate to a frantic pace. Then, as soon as the thing is over everything goes a bit slack.
"Whoa !" you say, "Groundbreaking self awareness laughing boy"................but it's this boom and bust thing that makes my head hurt.
Trying to stay consistent can be a bit of a struggle.
In another blinding flash of intellect, I worked out that I needed to get back in front of the easel fairly swiftly.
So, today was the day. I began by scraping a couple of layers off my face with a suspiciously hirsute BIC. ("No Dad I didn't use your razor"). Next a lightning traverse through the shower followed by some gravel from the bottom of a cereal box. After donning a selection of the requisite 'tramp chic' painting gear, (available at all good fly-tipped layby's), I manage to fend off a couple of phone calls and escape to the studio.
My best work is often done in a sort of trance. I'm happily sloshing the paint about, feeling my way into the thing, and suddenly I find there is a little bit I like. So I leave that part alone and move onto another area. after a little while longer another portion starts to look like it should, and slowly the whole canvas starts to take shape.
The tricky bit is knowing when to stop. I find it's not uncommon to be slapping the pigment about with something approaching gay abandon, only to suddenly be "back in the room", and find the thing was finished about ten minutes ago..................and now it's all a bit over-ripe.
So starting with a Yellow Ochre and Raw Sienna ground, I scraped and scrubbed. Using a couple of sketches and a photograph as reference, flicking between each as the thing takes shape. Adding Naples Yellow, a touch of Ali Crimson. The merest suggestion of Manganese Blue in the eye.............Don't the names of the pigments suggest great works ? Great painters ? Rembrandt, Vermeer, Michael Angelo. I always feel like repeatedly reciting "Burnt Umber" like some sort of spell, in the hope it will yield mystic results. Maybe that's how they did it.
I knew things were going well when I took a step back, just in time to realise I had finished the canvas. I only stopped 'cos I was in need of a cup of coffee.
Sometimes a lay off is what you need to get the juices flowing.