Friday, December 16, 2011

Wreck No.7

oil on canvas 91x91cm

I was just idly browsing for interesting landscapes when I came across a field with white cows. They struck me as being very pastoral and mysterious, and suggest a distinctly ‘Arcadian’ context. The wreck was chosen very carefully from my now disturbingly large library of destroyed tank photos. It doesn’t sit but seems to lay on the ground, and where the superstructure tilts towards the grass, the angles are similar to the cows’ tucked-under forelegs - an interesting rhyme across contrasting subjects.

I’m sorry to say that painting this was mostly very frustrating: I misjudged the tones of the sky and grass right at the start, and it took several corrections to get them as I wanted. As the cows were outlined fairly carefully in the setting-out, repainting the grass around them each time was a major chore. The light was to be quite subtle and I had trouble gauging the tones for a dull but luminous sky. I was grateful that painting the tank was pretty straightforward, and I have already written about the problems drawing cows in the previous post.

However, painting the middle and far distance was pure joy. I loved unrolling the landscape, and at times it seemed to paint itself. Not that it matters, but the wheatfields and trees are from France, and the valley and hills are Strathearn in Perthshire.

Though it was finished over a week ago, I’ve been working on this since summer, and a lot of music has come through the speakers since then. There isn’t a specific mood-setter, but I was listening to Shostakovich’s 24 Piano Preludes and Fugues a lot. If you’re tempted, here’s Keith Jarret playing No16 in B flat minor . This is the first version I came across and it got me keen to hear others. I usually listen to Konstantin Scherbakov’s - on Naxos - which I think is slightly more delicate but less available to link to on a blog.

I don’t know why but I felt very sad after having finished this, even though it’s quite a good painting, and I had to go for a big walk up the road. Often, finishing a piece is like the culmination of a hunt – having stalked it I’m chasing the painting and it’s twisting and turning trying to get away, and I’m getting closer and closer and then with the last dab and smear, I’ve got it. Signed and dated, Painter Triumphans.

This time I’d thought that I’d be relieved to finish it, but as soon as I had, it felt as though I’d just lost something.

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