Saturday, March 29, 2014


oil on panel 31x25cm

You may or may not have noticed that there wasn’t a post for February. I was quite busy doing my bit for the solo show - contacting folk, editing copies of the blog posts for print, and generally becoming so unrelaxed that I found it difficult to concentrate when doing arty work. So I’m sorry about that. However, it didn’t keep me from my unrelenting searches for inspiration through the google streetview, and I came across these extraordinary tracks across a lava field in the Galapagos Islands.

The crust has been violently twisted and torn by cooling and the pressures of the molten stuff from underneath. In places, lava has welled up through the recent scab and puddled across the rock before setting again. The whole surface is very new, so it’s un-eroded and razor sharp at the fissures. There is very little plant life – some pioneering species are slowly gaining a foothold – and it is a bleak, hellish, but fascinating landscape. Just for the contrast I’ve placed it below a soft, tranquil sky.

The painting is quite small, and I thought I’d experiment a little with its structure. Having indicated the main shadows, I tried explaining the forms in a dark red, thin stand-oil mix (plus driers!) applied with a smallish hog-hair brush. The substrate is smooth panel, so the brushwork appeared quite streaky when dragged, and gritty when dabbed, and I chose not to blend it. This ‘shorthand’ helped a lot in defining the forms, the complexity of which were rapidly becoming apparent.

So far so good. However, the priming was my usual mid-grey, and when I began placing the lighter tones a lot of this very informative red/brown texture got buried, which I didn’t particularly want. I think that I maybe did this the wrong way round, and it might have been more interesting to put my lights in before streaking and dabbing the texturing reds in on top - who knows.

As it happens, though, the subject does reflect my rather emotionally turbulent February and March, what with the solo show and all. I’ll just say for now that it seems to be going fine so far, and no doubt I’ll have more to say later - once it’s over - and everything’s back to normal again.

Looking good, though…