The 2013 return to my latest large-scale painting is well and truly kick-started now. After last week’s update on the progress of my autobiographical mobile painting, I am now able to report on another day’s technical painting work on the canvas which has taken over my artistic output for the last 9 months.
Day 16 of work saw me concentrate on the lower right-hand corner of the panel. There, having completed my large cliffs, it was now time to undertake the rather arduous chore of reflecting the cliffs into the pool of water below. I like this watery area… it has a sense of darkness and mystery for me, a bit like a large lake in a cave, a sense which is no doubt heighted because of the vast area of hostile rock face above.
In order to undertake the reflection, I started by practising a very small rock area in one of the little pools in the centre of the canvas (I anticipate that there will be a fair few rock pools by the time the canvas is finished). Having tested the art of reflection in that small area, I went on to the vast reflection of the right-hand cliff. It’s not easy to repeat what you have painted before, but all the more so to do so in reverse, as a reflection requires. It requires you to almost go back on yourself, to flip over every angle and to mirror every shade and colour, while ensuring that proportions are kept the same.
It took me most of the morning to repaint the cliffs in the pond. Once finished, I achieved what looked to me like a mirror reflection, but was not watery enough. The distinction between water and a mirror of course in the propensity of water to move, and therefore even on a still day, the reflection in water is bound to be distorted compared with a normal mirror reflection. Deciding that I’d give my scene a gentle sea breeze, I set about distorting my reflection with various ripples, many of which I created through dragging a dry brush over the surface of what I had just painted. This was a slightly scary moment, especially when I’d just spent the whole morning meticulously painting the reflected area. And of course if I got this bit wrong, the smudges of dark and light oil paint would dirty the canvas and it would be sometime before I could correct it.
At the beginning of the day
First stage of reflection done
Made into a watery reflection
Sufficiently pleased with my watery reflection for now (it will undoubtedly change as other details of the image materialise and alter), I moved on to a detail at the foot of the canvas. While Bilbao and Fluffy, my teddies at the centre of the canvas, represent myself and my partner (they were our gifts to each other at the early stages of our relationship and now follow us around the world), Enid, the little “golly” down on the right, is a representation of my mother, and my childhood.
Enid in reality
My mother, who herself has a large collection of gollies, some from her childhood, gave me Enid for a birthday present some 10 or so years ago. I was so pleased with her, I used to take her travelling with me. That was at least until travelling with a golly aroused too much anxiety on my part – This was in part because people displaying gollies in their windows have been arrested and accused of racial hatred… Is this the world gone “politically correct” mad? Perhaps so, and frankly it’s not a debate I want to entertain on my art blog, but all I know is that I grew up with gollies being to me, at most, as harmless as teddies and barbie dolls. My sister and I used to have golly picnics, where we would gather all the family’s gollies together and picnic with them, like your typical teddybears’ picnic. And I used to collect golly badges which one could only obtain having collected a sufficient number of vouchers from the jars of Robertson’s Jam. They are, needless to say, no longer available, but perhaps for that reason I alone, I prize my collection.
So in representing both my Mother, and my childhood, Enid is an integral feature of this autobiographical canvas. She’s all finished now, save for her label, to which I will add writing when the paint is dry.
And that was my day’s work. More to come, I hope, soon.
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