Gold Hill: A Painting by Peter Corr

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Gold Hill A Painting by Peter Corr
Gold Hill:A Painting by Peter Corr
Gold Hill Detail Abstract Painting on Wood by Peter Corr
Gold Hill (detail)

There are no hills in the Fenlands, but here and there low ridges break the flatness. In our fevered imaginations these 5 to 10 metres of reluctant altitude become the golden hills of a shared aspiration. Keen cyclists who have lived here far longer than they really ought to, speak of ‘brutally steep inclines’, ‘body position’ and ‘low gear momentum’. As painters, we take liberties with the time/space continuum…..creating our own interpretation of events. It isn’t a translation, its more of a transcription. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Vale of Eden 120 x 70 x 4 cm Acrylic on Canvas

Mixed Media & Acrylic painting  on Canvas
‘Vale of Eden’

I completed this relatively large acrylic piece about 2 years ago and it is definitely lighter and more colourful than my recent work. Generally abstract in terms of technique it is loosely based on the rhythms and cycles of growth seen in nature. I guess we all go through cycles in our approach to painting – and life – moving between what might be considered irrational exuberance and returning to the safe haven of sober reflection.

The surface is built up with impasto medium, combined with tissue, leaves, newsprint and card. In the later stages, translucent glazes have been added to increase the perception of depth and luminosity. I have long since arrived at the conclusion that my fascination with Cubism and Futurism is inherent in everything I do creatively.

Abstract painting on canvas
100 x 100 x 4 cm

This is a painting about perception and movement, about how we catch glimpses of the world around us and then proceed to construct a reality we can live with. I cycle most days – you know the bike is surely one of our greatest inventions – covering about 10 miles or so at a fairly leisurely pace. I enjoy being in and moving through the landscape, experiencing the changes in light and colour each day inevitably brings. Sometimes around this time of year, the sky is an intense blue and the warm sun flickers through the gaps between trees and hedgerows. Even at my pedestrian pace, I rarely register details, just a kaleidoscopic collection of shapes, colours and textures bombarding the retina. The futurists knew a thing or two about the art of seeing.

The materials include: oil paint, cold wax, metallic enamel.

Wheat Field, painting on canvas 100 x 120 cm
Wheat Field 100 x 120 cm

I am currently working on this relatively large painting in my studio. It is based on the extensive fields of barley, maize and wheat surrounding the small city of Ely here in the heart of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. I have tried to show the intensity of the warm golden colours we experience at this time of year and also achieve a lustrous paint surface. You will note that this work has little connection with photographic reproduction but is more concerned with the exuberance of growth, the fecundity and entanglement found in nature. The materials I work with are unconventional but offer the potential for inspirational outcomes if unexpected and unpredictable. The role of chance in a painting like this is critical and I am constantly alert to the interplay of line, tone and texture, that in my view, create the warp and weft of a successful image.

Wheat Field (Detail)

The materials include oil paint, plaster, bitumen, metallic enamel, cold wax, pumice stone.

This is a large painting on stretched canvas (100 x 120 cm) using readily sourced materials; these include bitumen, plaster, wax, oil, bleach and enamel paint. The landscape of the fens is a difficult subject to represent with any degree of fidelity. It certainly fails in terms of accepted notions of pastoral beauty. Being primarily flat, agricultural and man made, this landscape exists without obvious grandeur and distinguishing features. Endless dykes and artificial waterways inscribe, demarcate and score the surface. Visiting the same locations throughout the year there is a sense of intermittent yet cyclical activity; the earth is repeatedly gouged, scoured, exploited, exhausted, replaced and renewed. This painting is an attempt to reflect those processes over time.

Detail
Peter Corr Abstract painting landscape
Detail

This is a short video of me at work on a relatively large painting. It will give you some idea of how I approach the challenge of working on big surfaces. This is a 200 x 150 cm custom made canvas and the scale presents new challenges, forcing you to adopt different methods and techniques.

I have deliberately avoided brushes for this stage of the painting: an assortment of rollers and palette knives are used to block in the main areas of colour. For me, it is important to establish the overall composition as quickly as I can, it really doesn’t matter if these early indications and suggestions are obscured or abandoned. I am always alive to the notion that the painting will undergo many changes of direction; in a sense each new direction can only be based on previous decisions and judgements. The key is to make some judgements and decisions, they can always be modified as the work progresses. These early layers are essentially a way of breaking the ice, they may be obliterated by subsequent layers but they do begin the process of finding a composition whilst simultaneously building impasto and texture.

Paintings on this scale use considerable amounts of material and this has to be taken into account at the outset. There would be little point in adopting a parsimonious attitude towards materials and thereby restricting your creative options. Part of the joy of painting this big is the freedom to use materials with genuine exuberance and conviction. If you are worried about the quantity of paint you are using, I imagine this concern and hesitation would inevitably show in the work. Painting big requires physical movement, energy and action and you have to resist the temptation to reach for the fine sable brushes. Playing safe always seems like an attractive option but it is generally counterproductive in painting; in an effort to exert control over the exciting events unfolding in front of you the encounter becomes more about accountancy than art.

As you can see, the painting is in the early stages, I’ll update you as I progress over the next few days and weeks. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Detail

In the last day or so I have added additional layers to this work and tried to ensure that the selected materials interact in both challenging and unexpected ways. The inclusion of shellac and emulsion paint with powdered pumice stone creates unpredictable textural qualities and patina. Gloss, satin and matt painting media combine to reflect and absorb light. Bitumen, partially diluted with turpentine has been allowed to flow across the surface settling in crevices and darker pools. I am much happier with the overall direction of the work now, although it would be fair to say that the more experimental approach has clearly resulted in a loss of definition and resolution. Whether this is acceptable in the long run…only tomorrow will tell, when I begin all over again.

Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail
Detail

painting forest
Night Forest

This painting is from my New Forest series and the materials used include oil paint, cold wax medium and a solid block of oak. The oak block is 20 x 20 x 5cm. I have worked on cradled boards many times and have found that the harder surface encourages a more aggressive approach to mark making. The weight and density of the oak block takes this strategy a stage further and allows you to exploit the resistance and grain of the wood. That my subject matter is trees and I am working directly on the ‘machined’ surface of a tree only enhances the poetry and mystery of this activity we call painting.

Night Forest Painting
Night Forest (Detail)
Night Forest Painting
Night Forest (Detail)