This is an oil painting on a cradled wooden board using a cold wax medium. The cold wax process favors rapid execution and energetic marks or gestures, encouraging the creation of layers of translucent color, texture and impasto. Perspective is deliberately ambiguous and suggested only by changes in scale and the intensity of colour values. This painting is influenced by abstract expressionism and a deliberate simplification of forms.
This theme is a continuing exploration of landscape and nature, specifically the flat landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands, but generally…all land. Excavation……..because I am interested in the history of the land, the accretion of time and changes wrought by man, the taming of nature, the exercise of control and imposition of order. The division and subdivision, ownership and stewardship. But more than anything else, the land is an endowment, a gift from one generation to the next.
Additional layers of cold wax, deeper black tones to build contrast and depth. More removals and reinstatement, but travelling slowly in a direction I’m reasonably comfortable with. Endlessly surprised by my lack of insight into my own work, I have to leave it for a day or two before I can actually understand what I have done and need to do… If I continue working without a significant pause for assimilation and reflection (preferably a few days or maybe even a week) I become delusional. I can persuade myself that bad work is good, that the composition is dynamic, fresh and original, that the colour relationships are challenging yet harmonious……..the list of misreadings goes on…and on………….
As each successive layer of cold wax dries, I build additional marks and surfaces with an assortment of palette knifes and tools, scraping back where a colour or tone is too dominant or suffocating. I didn’t know paint could be claustrophobic…but it can, intensely suffocating and airless…..sucking out the very life we try to capture. Knowing when a painting has arrived at a destination is never simple…all artists know this….its a difficult judgement to make and we can always be wrong. So many factors come into play, tension, harmony, contrast, compositional structure….this is especially true of work that is primarily abstract and does not need to conform to a particular code of realism. It is a question of ‘rightness’ ; knowledge, experience and technique will only take you so far…..then your’e on your own.
I am working on 2 cold wax oil paintings at the moment, side by side on 60 cm x 60 cm panels, trying to balance the conflicting demands of perspective and compositional tension whilst retaining the integrity of the picture plane…. it is of course an impossible and unrealistic task, but occasionally, out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a resolution …….that’s the game we play.