Sunday, 16 March 2014

Time, resistance and strength. Orange and Grey Band, March 2014 Mixed media on board, 73cm x 104cm

Wood is very different to paint on compared to canvas. Harder, of course, and with the inherent confidence of a more versatile material. We build with wood, houses, tables, chairs, the list is endless. The canvas has art as its purpose. Softer, gentler and ultimately weaker. Wood can withstand more re-working than canvas, and this adds opportunities for investigation. We operate with a different time-frame when painting on wood. This strength of character in the material, its dignity lead me to choose a different array of colours this time. The colours needed to match the vitality of the wood. I applied paint, scraped it off, painted the surface over and over again. Once the top layer had dried, the underlying layers could be revealed through scraping with metal tools. I could reach the past. We fought it out, me and the board. I used paint, the board used its resistance. I decorated the board with bright colours in homage to its strength.


  1. I respect what you say about the inherent material qualities of wood and canvas: the resistence and strength of wood. When I paint I am also very aware of the different reflective qualities of the two supports. Last year I experimented (not entirely succesfully), trying to replicate the luminosity of gesso on wooden panels, while using canvas for its lightness of weight. However many layers of gesso were added to the canvas prior to painting, it seemed the light penetrated the (oil) paint and, instead of reflecting back directly from the smooth gesso (as it would from a wooden panel), was refracted by the weave of the canvas beneath the gesso, therefore never achieving the same quality of colour or luminosity. I wondered is that partially the reason you chose a different array of colours? Not a solution or judgement, just an interested observation. I like your work.

  2. Hi Rebecca, firstly my apologies for the late reply. Your thoughts on the individual properties of the support are very interesting, and you have definitely looked into these questions deeper than I have. The reflective qualities of the different supports were not at the forefront of my thoughts when I went for the slightly leftfield colour choice in this work. I rather responded to the rugged strength and hardness of the wooden surface when I chose what colours to use. I needed some fiery hues to set the board alight, thus the red/orange bias in the painting. This also made a link to the colour of the unprimed wood, that had a red colouration to it. The surface on the finished painting was matt, and this too "connected" to the original surface quality of the woodboard itself. In a sense I was more interested in making a coherent statement where the paints spoke about the support, rather than actually prioritizing the actual, finished image. However, it took your question to make me fully appreciate this. So thank you for your interesting comment, Rebecca. I hope my answer has gone a little way to clarify my thinking here.

  3. Many thanks for sharing your process and thinking. I am fascinated by your responses to the support and how it guided the painting and decision-making to such an extent. Love your work.