Monday, November 22, 2010

Wreck No.2

oil on canvas 51x51cm

The scene is a soft, still summer evening. The trees are flipped right to left, but the setting is recognizably Bruntsfield Links. The tank is a Panzer IV - obviously quite badly damaged, but resulting in interesting shapes.

Hopefully the grass, trees and sky read easily, but I’ve tried to make it so that you have to work a little to read the form of the tank - the marks are harder and cruder, and contrast with the blended forms behind and above.

I am yet again rather annoyed that, after slogging through these first two paintings, they’re too small. They were done on canvasses that I had ready, but at 20 inches square they maybe sell themselves short and lack impact. I’m pretty sure that it’s a confidence thing - the next lot will be bigger.

Having said that, I have to say that I’m really quite pleased with the evening light in this one…

Wreck No.1

oil on canvas 51x51cm

I’ve started what could turn out to be an extended series of paintings of wrecked tanks under calm skies or in serene landscapes. I’m not entirely sure why - the idea sprang out of nowhere – but I think it’s worth exploring. I know that this theme combines two subjects that interest me - clouds and tanks – but I’m uncertain what underlying message this sends, if any.

It’s easy to say why the sky is interesting. It is ever-present and ever-changing. It is plainly beautiful, and though remote and impersonal, its variations of colour, light, and form clearly influence our psychological state.

Tanks are another thing entirely. They are heavy, loud, powerful, expensive, and dangerous. They promise so much power and invulnerability, but are just hard scrap when destroyed, and I find that transmutation fascinating.

The two elements in these paintings are absolute opposites on several levels - light/heavy, light/dark, hard/soft. Solid/ethereal, mobile/static, open/closed. One is made through fire and ore, the other of air and water (I could go on…), and this lends itself to exploring different ways of using paint.

A lot of the tank images came from the web. However, I am reluctant to depict a feature of some of these pictures - the ragged uniformed bundles scattered around the wreckage. No, too much. That would to say something that I don’t want to say, and, frankly, I don’t want to dream about them.

Right then, enough Prologue; let’s explore these particular pieces individually.

Wreck No.1 is the first in this series. It has a beautifully patterned sky - rafts of altocumulus translucidus perlucidus if you must know - which I always associate with calm (soft tinkly piano music for some reason). The tank is a Panzerkampfwagen V, commonly known as a ‘Panther’. All the hatches are open, so hopefully everybody got away.

I simply posed the tank, side-on, against the sky in a featureless landscape, trying to make the sky soft and blended, and the tank rougher and coarser.

The sky is done with quite oily paint, for its softness and ease of blending. Each layer took ages to dry, which became quite tedious.