Mother, child and dog in a wood.
Finished on 12.12.2012.
The ideas behind the painting.
Balance: between Mother and Daughter, composition, colours, textures and details.
A sense of time.
A sense of depth, a bit like a stage set.
Some not particularly strong symbolism (ageing, time, a child being part of the mother and themselves, interaction).
Working with the tradition of mother and child compositions.
Green and orange.
Oil and earth.
Man made design (C’s colourful and imagined textile on her top) with stunning natural beauty (the leaves, the wonderful hair).
The friend S (and artist) who commissioned the work had input into the setting, style, size of canvas and of course her clothing.
Making sure it was ‘a painting’ as well as being realistic.
This meant the bench the subjects are is not pictorially cohesive in the usual (western, photographic) way; there are parts of the painting that have an abstract quality, there are others that are decorative such as the leaves or the material of the girl’s top, which doesn’t exist in real life. As for the realism, using real soil in the paint, making the figures proportions and their colouring fairly naturalistic, plus giving a sense of depth and depth of field to the picture.
A mixture of places for your eye to focus. Making the viewer’s eye dance across the canvas.
Gainsborough, English figures in landscape.
Picasso, colour clashing, depth.
Francis Bacon, paint application, sense of space.
Richard Hamilton, using technology, freedom of technique.
How the work was formed, with an thorough explanation of using digital photography, image manipulation and the computer in tandem with painting techniques.
The composition of S,C&L is made up from a series of photographs taken in Queen’s wood, North London. A least five different shots were used, cropped and positioned to make up the whole first sketch. The heads, legs, hands and backgrounds are all from different images. The colourful leaves are from a wall near our home. The grasses have references to two other artists.
The key colours were then taken from five samples of the photographs.
The oil paints were then chosen to match these, (the colours changed as the painting progressed). Brushes, techniques and textures were chosen.
The sketch was then squared up (covering the image in squares, covering the canvas in the same ratio of squares and then roughly sketching the image onto the canvas with a pencil, to get the proportions between sketch and finished art generally correct).
When on the canvas the composition was changed, moving and abstracting the image; it is very important to me that any painting is not a photographic transfer in paint, there is little point in that.
During the painting process there were at least four other sketches made in oils, pen and pencil, with three lists of ideas about directions the painting could take. The first list and sketch were made a few weeks before the photo shoot happened.
At different stages of the painting process the computer image was consulted and compared to the painting; for instance, the ladies’ nose was repainted after finding I had extended it somewhat from its real proportions.
Towards the end of the process, less and less notice was taken of the computer images; the painting becomes its own entity and leaves behind its beginnings.
An effort was made to make each part of the composition relate and interact with the other parts, colours fade, mix or are placed over the top of others; everything has to work together to make up one cohesive image. This was especially tricky were the outrageously colourful leaves were concerned.
Work slows and finally you feel you can do no more with a painting. It is. You have to let it be. That’s when the work get signed.
I had fractured my ankle an hour before the initial photo shoot and was in some pain.
The leaves are in real life even more colourful, almost fluorescent.
At one stage the background was to be gold leaf.
You have to cook soil (in a pan) to get the microbes and moisture out, otherwise the paint quality will suffer. I was going to use ground coffee as well but I became thirsty and brewed it instead.
A lot of though went into the texture of the surface, paint was diluted with two types of linseed oil and liquin as well covering glued on soil.
Listening to music helps painting enormously. Every stroke is important, and music helps you make better, more incisive marks. I wanted the paint, colour and the eye to dance over the composition.
This work was made to Miles Davis, David Bowie, Folk, Kurt Weil, Richard Wagner’s Ring boxed set and a lot of radio 4’ s In Our Time.
Different pigments in oil have very different properties, the magenta / red paints are very intense in strength compared to Paynes grey. It takes a lot of mixing to get the right intensities of colour for a lip colour as an example.
I paint in my spare time, usually when everyone else has gone to bed. This work took around 12-15 sessions of varying length, mostly two hours, after that my eyes give out and I de-focus. I don’t usually drink and paint.
Light in the room where I paint is from two sets of five dimmer controlled halogen bulbs. As I’m painting at night the controllable lighting helps enormously.
It’s very cold in the room so there is a old man-made fibre wrap around ladies cardigan (black) and an ill fitting woollen hat (white), worn as essential artists kit.
I really don’t like big signatures on a painting; the image, not the name of the artist should be what you see.
Photos of: Brushes used, Paints, Palettes, Computer image, Notes, Leaf photos
One of your better portraits,nice the time-lapse bit and the verbal.Ma&Pa.
Thank you, I am really glad you like it. There’s been some very positive response, the painting is now above the mantelpiece in the sitters house; plus I’m putting it into the BP award. Each painting hopefully progresses…