Back Into Old Habits

Moving up to a much bigger scale has been just as hard as I expected. Harder than I’d hoped.

For weeks I have wrestled with two 120 x 100 monochromatic canvases.

I work for that alchemical moment, when a painting transcends its materials; becomes more than the sum of its parts. That moment seems to arrive night after night. Then, morning after morning, they die.

As a painter, I am perpetually falling in love. Then, in the cruel morning light, my heart sinks, and I am disappointed again. For someone so loyal, I can be very fickle.

After so much battling, so much determination to stick to the monochromatic plan, in crept a rebellious thought. Yellow.

Sod it. What this needs is colour.

Quickly things went pop! It glowed, it was alive. Ah well, maybe next time.

‘You Can’t Possibly Know’, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 100 cm

I moved onto the second painting. Pink happened.

‘Wallop’, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 100cm

Ok, I still have a monochromatic painting to do.

An idea: make bigger version of smaller painting. Obvious really. Currently working on that. Will show and tell soon.

It was nice knowing you, but I’m going to destroy you now.

Every now and then, I have to look through my old work, and decide what to let go of. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes, not so much. Usually, this means I paint over it.

Painting death, mid destruction.

I felt good about the above painting when I made it, I internally wince a little when I recall its destruction. However, rather than fill my tiny home with old work, I recycle them. I actually say a little “farewell, and thank you”, just before they are obliterated. I’m probably not the best person to choose which paintings get the chop, but there is nobody here but me!

The painting it became: ‘Catastrophic’, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 cm

Ok, enough.

‘I Promise You’, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 60 cm

This week has been quite productive; 4 paintings completed since Wednesday.

Keeping in mind my commission of a large painting in “black and white with one dark colour”, I think it’s time to crank it up to the largest scale I can manage in my little attic studio: 120 x 100 cm.

‘Laughing Stock’, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 60 cm

I am concerned that the work has not been quite ‘black and white’ enough, so I’m going to see what happens when I literally only use black and white paint, no greys. We will see. I might fail, but something interesting always happens when you don’t succeed at what you originally set out to do.

‘Why The Hell Not?’, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 60 cm

The Post Painting Blues

‘Catastrophic’, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 cm

When I have reached the end of my energy and focus, and I cannot paint anymore, I feel a deep emptiness. I have to wait patiently until I am replenished. In that space where I cannot work, I am grieving. I have been ejected from the place I need to be. I am without purpose. Knowing that I will paint again soon gives me no comfort. It takes enormous willpower not to turn to alcohol to fill this void. I understand how easy it is for an artist to become a drinker (the last thing I need is to be a slave to drink as well as painting). When the grief is too much, I will just continue painting anyway, push myself even further. I cannot bear to stop.

‘Downright’, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 cm

For me, painting is a compulsion. No, it is not relaxing, or therapeutic. It takes stamina to paint. Even so, it brings great joy. For every high, however, there is a low. To stop, would be to have no reason to live. Without it, I am lost.

‘Why The Hell Not?’, acrylic on canvas, 80x 60 cm

3 paintings, Jan 2020

Acrylic and gouache on paper, A5. March 2019.

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3 new, one old. Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 120 cm

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August 2018, 6 new paintings.

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