Sprint 2 Term 2 The Aim: to develop a more considered and larger painting of one of the 360s. Greater focus on value, composition and colour. A more considered and measured approach to exploit the values of the flattened 360 distortions. More attention to the process, better prep, and planning. Sources for the work – 360 photograph, as well as reference to John Wyeth, Jason Walker, Odd Nerdrum (early) and Anthony Williams In an effort to widen my knowledge base of contemporary painting, I’ve been looking at Justin Mortimer and Phil Hale’s work but that approach to figurative and application of paint will likely be explored in relation to the figurative work.
First step is the board prep. I chose a light grey for the gesso, each of the 3 coats have been sanded back to help to create a smooth surface. I did not use white or yellow ochre as I have done in the past as the grey would help act as a foil to the white elements of the sky. I have chosen board this time, as opposed to the canvas support of the original 3 360 oil sketches as a means of helping refine brush marks, support the use of thinner layers of paint and enable the possibility of greater edge precision where needed. I also edited the original photograph so that the board was the same ratio as the reference material.
The aesthetics of slowing down
I’ve been considering the meaning of ‘conviction’ and ‘commitment’ to a painting, prompted by a conversation with a far more experienced painter. I had wondered if this meant in relation to the application of the paint. Not blending, but laying paint on in gradated values side by side, perhaps. What I have been doing so far before this painting – it now becomes clear – has gone against the approach taken by the artists’ work that I am most drawn to. these artists take a very considered, and carefully composed approach to their work, where the surface is built up slowly and in a very observed way. So the new ‘slow’ down modality is the only route to that (thanks Jason!). This current painting is then an experiment in slowing down to see what can be achieved and if, in the end, that feels more authentic and meaningful to me. This has become rightly existential. I’d like to extend this to figurative work in future. And practically, this approach is needed to fully exploit the sublte distortions of the 360 source image.
In the sequence above, I think that I now have a better handle on value and slowing down to create the detail that supports the translation of the subtle perspective distortions afforded by the 360 photo sources alongside my intention to create a form of folk horror that represents a subtle ‘jamming of the pastoral’ (trademark!) – a low key ‘weirding’ as it were. The next and last task for this sprint is to include more stripes – once the painting is dry – produced accidentally (synchronically?) when I printed off the source image and the ink cartridges were running low. Their presence is also designed as another form of jamming, a more obvious acknowledgement of the digital and analogue technology used in the generation of the painting’s sources.
Interspersed with bouts of painting, I’m been checking out a few youtube videos on brushwork, particularly around the difference between loose painterly brushwork and the blended approach. In other words Sargent versus Caravaggio. Both have their appeal! A mix of the two is where I am headed towards. I have also been researching different blacks and how they play out. Lamp black, Ivory and van Dyke Brown. I’ve added the latter to my palette – useful for more colourful blacks and greys down into a useful faun colour. Other activities include playing with particle effects in Blender and reading for the essay (well also for pleasure), Erik Davis’s amazing High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. As well as a book that takes a deep dive into understanding contemporary religion and humanist posthumanism, it demonstrates how important ‘weird’ in all its guises has been to the construction of contemporary culture. I love this book.
Slow down has produced I think a more considered piece of work that is better suited to the perspective concept that I set out to achieve. The next painting sprint (post Open Studios) will see another similar painting created to help create the ‘body of work’ and to consolidate and take forward learning from this one.