Friday, 28 November 2008

Navel Gazing

I've been away travelling in my head and navel gazing at the same time. Not easy for a chap of a certain age! And apart from some fluff and biscuit crumbs there was not a lot to blog about. Except, that is, about some conclusions I have come to:
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!


my croft said...

Welcome back from the doldrums. I hope you have a long hiatus from them.

Did you know that are more redheads per capita in Scotland than in any other place in the world? (No wonder I like being there so much -- I've finally found my tribe.) I mention this to point out that the orange bit on or about or in place of the head in the righthand figure is consistent in the sketches. ;-)

And I literally gasped (in a good way) at the final image. I think your abstraction experiments are going to illuminate your figuration in surprising and appealing ways.


vivien said...

absolutely definitely the way to go!

Abstracting FROM something is giving you images with much more depth

I like the lively way you draw figures and really feel this is the way you need to go :>)

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Hey Melanie - I've always been partial to redheads, whether natural or applied! (you are not one yourself by any chance?)
I think they also say that Scottish 'gingers' are actually becoming rarer, which would be a real shame since they are always a good in a fight!

Now I have an image of you gasping in surprise like McCauley Culkin in 'Home Alone' :o)

Vivien: I have been told this before but do I listen? Well I'm listening now and can confirm that this will be the way I will go from now on. Thanks!

Brian McGurgan said...

These are great, David - I especially like the third one with the closely harmonizing colors. This is a really nice direction for your work with abstraction.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Thank you Brian!
I need to not get too excited and just take it naturally.

adebanji said...

Now, I have just seen this and I think it is great.
LOVELY COLOURS- they create harmony and tension!

The last is a beauty!