Autobiographical Mobile: My painting diary – Days 8-15: The sky and the cliffs
It’s been a long time since I last posted the progress of my Autobiographical Mobile painting – the large canvas on which I am painting something of a representational narrative of my life. The reason for this absence is not forgetfulness, more a lack of time to paint. Such is the continuous treadmill of modern life, that time to paint becomes slimmer and slimmer, and as daily work predominates the days of the week, its potential to sap at my creative energies extends further still, into the evenings and the weekends. I find it hard to paint on these dark winter’s evening, working in artificial light, when hunger pangs in my tummy and fatigue pulls at my eyelids. And at the weekends I find my time is filled with the many menial activities for which the week no longer allows time. And so my autobiographical mobile, itself a rather ambitious task, is taking its time to develop. Nevertheless, since I last featured the painting in October, some significant changes have manifested.
One benefit of having a painting slowly develop, hanging around my home from week to week, is that I have more time to contemplate its development. It was during the autumn that I developed a growing sense of unease about the work, finding gradually that the colours did not work. The pastel shade of the cliffs was too insipid, and the sky lacked depth. Both had to change.
So as I set to work on the painting after some weeks of rest, I first tackled the sky. Even though this meant largely undoing much of the work I had completed on the “Calder” mobile, I found the addition of clouds gave the flat blue sky more depth, more character and a greater balance.
Satisfied now by my sky, I turned to the cliffs. It is one of the great benefits of modern technology that I can plan the direction of my painting midway through its progress, without even touching brush to canvas. With the aid of a paint application on my iPad and some very quick finger work, I was able to try out several new colour schemes with a view to assessing how the work would look with a bolder colour palate. I knew the insipid pastels of my background were no longer working with the bold modernist contrast of my central mobile, but I wasn’t sure which colour direction to take with the background. Here were a few iPad ideas…
In the end, opting for a richer brown-red cliff face, I set about covering the pinkier pastels of the pre-existing background. Just applying a plain coat of Indian Red required me to carefully paint around the already completed elements of my mobile and autobiographical symbols.
With a new base coat applied, and much more satisfied with the richer colour balance upon my canvas, I set about working on the textural surface of my cliffs. Part inspired by the cubism of the early 20th Century, and wanting to create a more jarring, robust environment for my slightly surreal beach scene, I found myself drawn to create a multi-textured cracking, angular surface from a rich array of reds, browns, oranges and beiges. The total surface of the vast cliffs took me several days to complete, and even now I am forever changing and rebalancing sections.
For the final touches of my cliffs, I added a number of large, self-standing almost obelisk-like boulders, increasing the detail and textural variance of these rocky surfaces the closer they got to the foreground.
At the end of all of this, I started to repaint my mobile structure, now much abused by the reinvention of the background all around it. Finally with the cliffs done, I can turn to the sand, the pools, and the all important mobile and the items which, hanging from its various tendons, will tell my story.
Until next time.