This blog has been filled with a lot of portrait paintings and thoughts about portrait paintings, but I also make other work which I add from time to time!
This is a fairly recent work, that I have been working on it for the last year or so, and it has developed in a surprising way, with dots! I have been banging my head against walls for a long time, trying to find a way to add paint to a canvas with less ‘style’. Its ended up here, but the journey here took a lot of different turns up blind alleys. I think the end is sculptural, combining a love of drawing, working with the figure, with colour. I have been trying over the years to combine both figurative and non figurative elements, and have explored many differing ways of painting with oils. Here there are 3 different ways of approaching a painting, or using paint; drawing, glazing, and something like pointillism.
The initial subject of the work was a figure dancing. I like the theme of the Harlequin, and this has obvious art historical references like Picasso or Cezanne amongst others. I used a photo of the dancer Arthur Mitchell which had the right quality of expression – not too stylised. I didn’t want to paint a picture of ‘dance’ but rather paint a human being in motion, in a state of change. After drawing the figure in paint – using one consistent line around the silhouette in a burnt umber, I glazed the traditional checked pattern of the Harlequin’s costume over the figure, overlapping so that it wasn’t limited by the figure and had the quality of something floating on another part of the picture plane. The picture plane is an imagined space, and I was trying to imagine a series of spaces within the same picture plane. 1 There is the figure in its own space, which is 2 dimensional as a silhouette. But when I make a drawing of a figure I am always thinking of the figure in the round, moving through a space. An inspiration could be Michelangelo’s slaves. I ‘carve’ the line as I paint, and this is a process of refinement and cutting the line. My first natural discipline is sculpture, specifically taking away, or carving. 2 there is the suggestion of a costume, but one that hovers in a space different to that of the figure. 3 the dots, which is a solution I have found that helps me paint with less style. Dots feel like both a blessing and curse, and like Pisarro now I’m there using them all I want to do is try and paint without them. But for now I am sticking with them and we will see where they take me.
This stayed in the studio for a few months and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, like so many paintings I have made.
But one day I started reworking another painting, using dots to map out some abstract spaces of a composition. This failed and I abandoned the attempt.