Long-arranged in my diary, most of last week was spent as ‘My painting week’, seven days in which I ignored the rest of the world as far as possible and just painted. This is what came out of it.
Some existing paintings were worked on, trying to improve them:
‘Landscape observed’, lightened up considerably without in any way altering the structure except in a few details. Probably now finished.
Untitled, similar palette to above but with red, and small whereas the above is 5 ft long. The other difference is that while ‘Landscape observed’ is precisely that, this inconsequential piece, like similar ones already painted, is a whimsy, an image of nothing. Titivated a little and now finished.
I simply turned this one upside down, which immediately improved it, removed a building then standing on its roof, slightly but significantly changed the hues and shape of the multi-coloured band across the near middle-distance (‘the hills/mountain range’), sharpened up the ochreous ‘beam’ shining up or down, scored slight lines into the foreground, and intensified the purple and viridian green occupying the ‘sky’ – and hey presto, you have another landscape if you want one. I see it as an abstract, perhaps trying to say something. Untitled, but I like it.
This was an abstract developed from an abstract based on a contrived image used as an exercise in the ‘towards Abstraction’ course I went on in May (see posts in May/June below). I wanted to strengthen the purple so I began scraping it off the board. I ended up by scraping the whole of the acrylic picture off, so this painting no longer exists.
I then replaced it in oils impasto, using a similar palette, with additions, but not trying to keep to the same pattern. I scored into it, however, the same pattern of lines as on the original. They will be turned into three-dimensional ‘piping’, as on a decorated cake, once the oils have dried and I have sand-papered them down a bit. Meanwhile, I have an almost completely new abstract painting, awaiting its final embellishments:
That last one has taken a lot of time but I think will eventually be worth it.
I also painted three new works. The first, small and untitled, is vaguely solaroid and celestial. It is finished and, rather weakly, is called simply ‘Solaroid’ so that it has a title to be promoted immediately to The Gallery.
The other two new paintings are unfinished, mainly because I am waiting for their oils to dry. One is also vaguely solaroid in inspiration but is not of anything in particular, though I suppose it could be sun-risey. Its genesis, however, lies in a deliberate attempt to revert to a technique I used quite a lot in my early days when I was exploring the joys of painting and discovering you didn’t necessarily have to use a brush at all. You just needed a flat surface which you could pick up and tilt this way and that, a range of ochres, and a bottle of oil. You can induce this sort of effect by encouraging the oil to run through the ochres:
This canvas in fact requires a lot more work but I can’t do much till it dries a bit more. Meanwhile I have a good foundation for a really messy and colourful painting – untouched by painterly brush.
This last new painting is completely different in intent and technique. It is about 100 x 60 cms. Obviously, it is basically figurative: the actual scene exists in Suffolk, here much exaggerated. It is called ‘The Green Barn’, a little joke because the whole point is to have an expanse of yellow as bright as I can get it. I have two more coats of yellow ochre to put on, the last a really bright one to be carefully liquified from the last two spoonfuls of a wonderful pure yellow ochre I acquired years ago in Provence.
This was an early draft. Now, the track and the barn have shrunk, and it looks like this:
I think the track may well disappear altogether at the next repainting, and maybe the skyline clumps of bushes too. A painting of only flat grey, dark green and an expanse of very bright yellow might well be a stunning combination – however removed from the reality of the actual scene.