Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wreck No.12

oil on canvas 61x51cm

I think this is the closest I’ve come so far to creating The Classical Landscape with a Sting. The feel here is Arcadian, and I think that looking closer I’d be expecting to see a mythological scene of nymphs and fauns. Well, I’d be disappointed. There’s just a rather nasty-looking tank wreck in the shadows.

Et in Arcadia Ego.

The working title (wreck numbers get confusing) was ‘Devon Claude’ - it’s Claude Lorrainesque and it’s in Devon. I’ve had this location in mind for a while but couldn’t work out the necessary compositional tweaks until now. It’s on the direct road from Sidford to Ottery St Mary, where it tips over the ridge, and is copped from Google maps. I really must go there sometime because that whole area looks very pretty indeed.

Back to the piece. It has a fuzzy look about it, which may be due to using Stand Oil in some of the paint. If you don’t know it, this is a very viscous form of linseed oil – it’s like honey - which makes the paint film transparent, even, and very flowing. I’ve been loth to use it because it takes ages to dry, but adding a couple of drops of my new friend Cobalt Driers makes it a viable ingredient when mixing thin veils and glazes. Which was useful here.

The wreck itself was not directly referenced. I wanted malevolence rather than pathos, and channelled my arachnophobe side to create suggestive shapes of wrenched metal. At the same time I’ve managed to conjure up credible shapes that rhyme with the pale beech trunk and the side-lit foxgloves (willowherb?). Hopefully I’ve misdirected you enough so that at first glance there is nothing amiss.

I think that’s all the Wreck Series’ driving elements included - landscape, sky, lushness, and beauty; surprise, pain, and fear – and, while I can see where I haven’t solved all the problems, the painting’s not bad, if a little on the small side. Bits I’m quite pleased with? The sky/cirrus on the left (delicate paint manipulation and shifting blues), and - if it displays OK on your monitor - the foliage in the bottom right corner (very narrow tonal and colour ranges, but the mass, texture, and indirect light come across quite well).

Just in case you’re wondering, working with spider shapes was not cathartic. Really still not that keen on ‘em...

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