Friday, 25 October 2013

Passion and self control. Red times four, October 2013. Acrylics on board, 59.5 cm x 65.5 cm

This survey of red hues started out as a rather flamboyant patchwork of many colour fields. The sheer multitude of the mix didn't work, and something had to be done. Like a chairman of a rambunctious meeting I asked for silence and politely requested the colours to take turns in saying what was on their mind. Red stepped forward first. As it is a highly volatile colour it was important that a calm and balanced delivery could be presented.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

To use the past. Orange painting, October 2013. Acrylics on canvas, 29.5 cm x 39.5 cm

Having many paintings on the go at once has been interesting recently. To work on one canvas, put it down and go on to a different one can lead to new considerations. Some happy accidents are left as the final result whereas some "finished" canvases meets a total overhaul in the fresh light of a new day. This painting met such a fate. A layered composition failed to stand up to scrutiny and needed to been given new life. The buried layers shows through on the surface, however. This leaves a crucial link to the past, without which the painting would lose its individuality. The painting would become "about" something totally different.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Intent, decay and a murmuring purple. Purple, grey and black on white, Oct 2013. Acrylic on canvas 30 cm x 40 cm

Keeping to a format and a formula sometimes gets unexpected results. This canvas has been completely reworked about five times. I would leave this little work alone for a few days, but then have to return to it as I still was unhappy with its presence. It had a large white area for a long while, but it simply didn't make enough "noise" that way. There needed to be a communication happening, a relationship I could feel was worthwhile showing. The purple arrived first, and as I decided on its partners, it struck me that a combination of grey and black would lift the murky purple to an elevated post. I deviated from earlier handling by treating the black and grey more loosely, less flat. This created a certain tension. The mixing of black and white resembled a process of decay. The grey then looked more defined and this also resulted in a more coherent relationship to the murmuring purple.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Solids. Black, white and grey, October 2013. Acrylics on canvas, 45.5 cm x 59.5 cm

Pushing white and black around the canvas and trying to make them agree was the task here. Rather than movement I worked towards stillness. Weight. I wanted a heavy statement, open to consideration. Secure, ominous, threatening, reassuring, loyal, those attributes needed pruning away. I was looking for a balance, a state independent of all such association, yet also not exclusive of them. As I had worked for a while the grey appeared as a pollution, making difficult the maintenance of light that was necessary for harmony. I let some of the "smoky" grey stay, once I started neatening up the shape with the void-ful white. A particular task was to straighten the lines by eye-measure alone. This lengthy process gave added weight to the final block.

Monday, 14 October 2013

On slowness, movement and texture. Black and white painting, 14 Oct 2013. Acrylics on canvas, 45.5 cm x 59.5 cm

I use acrylic paints and a scraper knife to apply the paint. The the idea for any painting is often a very loose one, and the initial application of paint is rather tentative. The image slowly takes shape, and the scraper suits this slow build-up of paint. I have refrained from using rulers, masking tape or indeed paintbrushes as this speeds up the process too much. Speed inhibits many random discoveries. The awkward nature of the scraper suits a slow manner of working. As a process is has more to do with plastering than painting. Arranging flat colour in this manner, there are certain things that come natural to the process and the tool. The straightening of lines, the pinching of corners. The slight blending of colours despite the unsuitability of doing this with the scraper. Despite the static composition, the texture speaks of the process. Despite the straight lines, the lack of mechanical instruments to create these lends them a certain irregularity. I find this quality able to carry movement. Flat colour, but textured. Straight lines, yet imperfect. I am yet to create a painting that looked like my initial idea.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Further negotiations. A tale of woe (continued) Untitled, Oct 12, 2013. Acrylics on canvas, 50.5 cm x 75.5 cm

After a long period of working on the same canvas many decisions has been taken and many more rejected. The elaborations with shape and composition has now been entwined with the issue of colour. A cease-fire of sorts has been reached for now. Minor adjustments will have to be made. Not today, however.  

Friday, 11 October 2013

Colour in general and reds in particular. Red painting, Oct 11, 2013. Acrylics on canvas, 35.3 cm x 45.3 cm

Even abstraction comes with many choices, particularly between colour and shape. Composition hovers overhead these two aspects at all times. Which of the two to concern oneself with today? Shall one take a dominating role or shall they both be neatly balanced? Who shall be the Main Character of today's canvas-bound stage play? What's the importance of colour, or the chosen colours on the day for the person in front of the canvas? Shape chimes in with the active choices I make when I draw. Colour was for a long time the follow-up. Proposals when Colour understands itself to be the leading character often follows a different path to that of when Shape is at the helm, and here I negotiated with reds. Red lead the way on the canvas and after painting I felt I viewed red in a different light all day.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Blue on white, October 2013. Acrylics on canvas, 39.5 cm x 39.5 cm

Again I buried an old work, and again the process of doing so invigorated me. It's not unlike stopping a bleed, or turning off a screeching fan in the car at a long journey. The sense of liberation thereupon guided a carefree composition, I could invest in the canvas again with impunity. This might have influenced my frivolous use of strong colour. Blue has many contemplative properties, but is just because of this quite tricky to use. What if I don't intend to create a contemplative work? Or aren't all works contemplative? How shall I define "contemplative"? But above all;  does these considerations matter? Blue is blue, and applied on (or alongside) white it's simply blue on white, or blue alongside white.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Reality versus The Mind and death to useless paintings. Untitled, Oct 7th 2013. Acrylics on canvas, 39.5 cm x 39.5 cm

There is sometimes a moment when attempting to commit an idea to canvas when the collision between the mind and reality only lets one of these contenders come out alive. This work was initially different in my mind. I looked forward to destroy an old painting that I couldn't stand anymore with a strong, black and white composition. "Reality" (the old painting) was to be replaced by "The Mind" (the new idea). The destruction of the old painting was granted me, alas, the "New Idea" was just too weak when it hit the canvas. It looked studied, formulaic and predictable. Disorientated I kept on rowing with black and white, in an attempt to negotiate with the resisting canvas. Finally we reached a compromise that left me in no doubt that it was a "draw" (pardon the pun). Simpler, prouder, it still communicated defiance to me. I'm okay with that.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Honest steel versus servile paintbrushes. A cautionary tale. Acrylics on canvas, 30 cm x 40 cm (Destroyed)

I was told many times in the past to avoid comfort in creating pictures, to vary the media and the tools I was using. This would help me avoid habit, reflex-laden responses to the surface in front of me, be it paint on canvas, charcoal on newsprint or even the good old pencil on paper. At the moment I use the scraper a lot, or a palette knife to move the paint around with. Paintbrushes invariably seems to lead to the same handling of the paint, and it's too easy to drown in effect-making. A steel implement has a lot more resistance to it, it resists my attempts to control it, and thus often makes the end result become more of a compromise between me and the tools I use. Here I have used paintbrushes, and the result is troubling. I shall have to work into this anew, but as a starting point it will have to do. A selection of both artists paints and household paints have, however, added some interest to the texture, and undone some of the linear damage the weak-willed paintbrush has wrought.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Untitled, September 5th, 2013. Acrylics on oak panel, 28.7 cm x 45 cm

The question of composition keeps coming up, as it should, at all times when starting, or altering existing images. With two lines, the possibilities are manifold. With the addition of colour, as two lines gives three areas, there is an even vaster array of possibilities. The interplay between these parts gives a similarly vast array of responses, in the eye as well as in the mind. Our opinion on decorative aspects play a role in how we judge something like this, but also our associations influence "what it is". The choices the artist makes are not insignificant, and indeed daunting when creating any work.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Untitled, October 4, 2013 Acrylic on canvas, 29.7 cm x 121 cm

At first an annoying name of an artwork, its cocky refusal to direct the viewer's interpretation towards a specific set of associations is growing on me. Perhaps it's the most pragmatic title. I started wild and red here, it settled into a structured, static image. Again the colour white provided the dominant impulse to the final outcome. To cover over the past, and in a nod towards the utility aspect of white, used in signs and on roads and numerous rule-laden communications, I find it very central to my thinking.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

To avoid figuration. (Untitled, Oct 2, 2013. Acrylics on paper mounted on board, 29.7 cm x 42.8 cm)

So, a full Wednesday painting led to a persistent searching amongst simple shapes, and colours. Trying to avoid figuration without going sterile is a formidable challenge. I'm fond of white and its reductive qualities, as well as its properties of dropping in light in between other colours. To quote Tom Clancy, who died today, it's all about "keeping going until you get it right." This work, acrylics on paper mounted on board, taught me a lot today, and for this I'm grateful.  All enquiries to