Wednesday, July 20, 2016


oil on canvas 81x51cm

Finished at last, this month’s post is a very obvious sunset, based on my own photos taken locally. It’s the Meadows, in Edinburgh, looking south at Marchmont and Bruntsfield. I’ve flipped it left to right, so the Barclay Church at Tollcross is just out of sight on the left, and I’ve taken some liberties with the far trees and ornamental cherry avenues. There’s also a soundtrack for it, should you feel the need.

…Small digression - I’ve more good news. For the first time, I’ve had two pieces hung in this year’s RSA Open. They’re Oldies – Wreck No.1 and Bad Valley - but Goldies. So, if you happen to be around Edinburgh before August 30th, you can pop into the Royal Scottish Academy building – lower gallery of course - and see them (and loads of other stuff) for free…

Back to the main subject: It’s an OK painting, but definitely not as good as some I’ve done recently though, and it had a bit of An Accident. Anyway, have a closer look – its title is ‘Fight’ for a reason. I found the two blokes fighting on google - they were originally on a beach, and were rather stupid and funny. Then I realised that if they were darkened, their combined shape suggested something quite ugly and arachnid. The idea had – if you don’t mind – legs, and I could misdirect the eye away from their silhouette on the dark grass with the big technicolour sunset.

The Accident: Progress was fairly straightforward until my bike got a puncture. After fixing it, I was flipping my bike back upright (Works in Progress are hung in the hall, above the radiator) and carelessly scraped the handlebar down a couple of inches of the smooth, flat surface, which caused an extremely annoying ridge. At one point I was considering cutting the whole left side away to get rid of it. Which would have been a shame as I really liked the fade from the hot ‘Sun’ to the much cooler left edge. A patch on the back helped a little, but the flaw was in a deliberately featureless area, and would interfere with the blurred and stroked surface I had planned. The solution I came up with – not entirely successful, but which did help to disguise the surface damage – was to use small, thick, unsoftened strokes of paint for all the foreground grass – not the texture I wanted. Anyway, it’s done now.

The paintwork that I am pleased with, though, is the layering of glazes, plus the odd thin white layer, around the Sun. They’re a heavier mix than normal – based on the usual Stand oil, but with slightly more Damar resin and less turpentine. Particularly pleased with the hot ‘peachy’ areas, which use incandescent mixes of Indian Yellow, Transparent Oxide Red, and Alizarin Crimson. To be honest I’ve gone a bit over-the-top with the hot stuff in the sky at the expense of the cool blues, and I promise that I‘ll be a bit more discriminating about where and when to cut loose with them in the future. 

There may be a more subliminal reason why this painting has ended up being so very lurid and overcooked. Perhaps I’ve been over-affected by recent events, both at home and abroad. In the previous post, I alluded to a Big Moment, and that perhaps the UK was in for yet more stormy political weather. Well, I wasn’t wrong; the EU referendum went Leave’s way, so the whole United Kingdom is now heading out of the European Union. This caused the then Prime Minister (‘I’m not a quitter’ – the day before the vote) to announce his resignation the day after it, and the main opposition party to disembowel itself publicly for some inexplicable reason. There was carnage on the successful ‘Leave’ side as its main proponents either resigned or were savaged by each other in their attempts to be the governing party leader, and we now have a new Prime Minister who has slaughtered* the previous PM’s cabinet and set the remaining ‘Leavers’ on course to carry the electorate’s wishes through. So out we’ll go, much to the bemusement of the rest of the civilized world. 

So, if I can sum up how my own perception of the imagery in the painting evolved – and I do hope you’re enjoying the soundtrack – we have at first glance an exaggerated sunset. Which is nice, if a little clichéd, until you see the two blokes intent on destroying each other. It doesn’t stop there, oh no, because I have to admit that as I worked on the figures, the distant ‘flash’ on the horizon became more threatening, and deadly. And I think we all know what that’s about.

Done now. Back to normal. It’s just a nice sunset, and a nice park, in which two blokes are having a fight, OK?

Now, lest I get too political and flag-wavy in what is essentially a blog about making marks with coloured pastes, let me re-set my composure and equilibrium and just say that -
a) I feel that it’s not all over yet, and every cloud has a silver lining
b) We’re doomed, I tell ye, we’re doo-oomed…

*Not literally of course

No comments:

Post a Comment