While I am fascinated with abstract painting and abstraction I may not be the best exponent of the art. It doesn't come particularly natural to me, and perhaps I should leave it to others who make a better go of it. So what am I to do? Every time I go round this dilemma the same answer comes back - figuration. Go back to doing what you really like best, that is drawing and painting figures. Now with fewer years ahead of me than lie behind it's about time I settled down to developing a singular and personal imagery which is mine, all mine, and nobody elses but mine!
So with that in mind I return to my sketchbooks and set out on the long road through the development of a painting:
Pencil on paper, A6 sketchbook: Two female figures seen from the back at last years Artburst Festival in the streets of East Kilbride Village. The Art Festival title is a bit of a misnomer. In my opinion it should be properly named the 'Open Air Piss-Up' since drink laws are relaxed for the three day duration and people can take their swally out into the street. Oh to be in Paris, or the side-walk cafes of Sorrento, but certainly not here about ten o'clock on a wet Saturday night! Still it gives me the opportunity to sketch my fellow revellers.
Working from those two sketches I bring the figures together and try to create some dynamic between them:
Neocolours on paper, 21x30cm: "Development 1: Girlfriends"; I invariably like compositions with only two figures to explore the interaction between them. But I need to go further, and larger:
Neocolours on paper, 44x60cm: "Development 2: Two Figures"; The figures are still female but a change is taking place - the one on the left has become more non-sex specific, and the other is now holding a long staff. Where that comes from I don't know but there you are. I think it was just a device to create an edge to the picture. What you do see here is an attempt to blur the edges such that background crosses over into the figures space. This device fascinates me.
But how to turn these sketches into a painting?:
Oils on board, 44x61cm: "Development 3: Standing Figures"; Using closely harmonising colours applied with palette knife I play with the image trying to create greater ambiguity (my current favourite word). But somehow when forming the right figure's head that touch of complementary colour explodes upwards. She's on fire! This kind of takes me back to my experiments with Free Abstracts where I just painted as it came to me, just going with the lava flow, which in this instance was bright orange and red! Anger? Amorous thoughts? Embarassment? You choose!
I'm pretty pleased with this development and now that I'm on a roll I need to do it again and hopefully take it further. The figure on the right was compromised by my placing such that I had to bend her arm upwards since I couldn't get it in outstretched as in the sketch. That was OK, but I want to shift the figures to one side and capture the extended arm again:
Oils on Board, 48x61cm: "Final Development: Guardians at the Gate"; Perhaps getting too mannerist but there they are, standing guard at a doorway. Where they came from is unknown but with each development new ideas, colours, and applications, spring forth. Excited by this development but I need to see if I can do it again, to consider it's merit. But that is for another day . See you soon, I hope!