I began this painting (above) a week or more ago. It is loosely based on some photographs I took in the bog this year, particularly this fuzzy looking one with the trenches at right angles in the distance.
I started work on a 12″ x 14″ x 1.5″ canvas and outlined the composition with broad strokes of colour. I’ve accentuated the right angled trench and made it the centre of attention.
Next I added some textured paste. I’m really enjoying this stuff – it does exactly what you want it to do, so when you put it on the canvas it doesn’t slide off and it holds it’s shape perfectly until it dries.
Here are some close ups – I’ve used my hands to make the marks, as well as brushes of different sizes and various tools that came to hand. I’m interested in putting some energy into the piece with these marks, in making the surface seem to writhe with movement as it sometimes appears to do in life.
The paste takes several hours to dry completely so I return to it the next day. I go back in with colour to describe the grasses and the landscape and I make the trench a watery one with blues.
This is what the piece looks like when it’s still wet and after lots of colour has been applied (below).
The paint loses it’s gloss once it has dried (below) but this will return later once the canvas has been varnished.
When I look at it again, I realise that there are too many horizontal lines and shapes which need to be broken up. I decide to correct this by making some small vertical shapes in the centre of the canvas so that the eye is carried around the painting rather than stopping at the point where this trench shape ends.
I’m pleased with the results and I’ve decided to call the piece ‘Surge’. This describes for me the movement of the landscape – movement that the eye can see but also the shiftings that take place over hundreds of years. Thousands of years. Layers of matter building up all the time and layers being washed away. I love this notion of the land as a living thing, observed cooly in the distance by the unchanging character of the mountains.