Painting: Oil Cold Wax and Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 80 x 80 x 2cm
This is a cold wax mixed media painting on a high quality canvas frame. It is based on my experience of the Fenland landscape. It is not a visual record of a specific place, or a celebration of a well known structure or familiar location. I am interested in surfaces and textures and the way materials can be combined to create tactile qualities. Cold wax can be applied in thin layers or heavy impasto. It can be scored, scoured and burnished like a rich stoneware ceramic glaze; it can left dry, broken, fragmented and uneven.
“Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away. When you come upon a man who has been dead many years, his bones will still be lying there, in place, content, patiently waiting, but his flesh will have gotten up and left him. Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious. Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable. Tell me, then, Alobar, in order to achieve immortality, should you emulate water or stone? Should you trust your flesh or your bones?”
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
Close up detail of the painting surfaces
This work is inspired by the flat,expansive and mysterious landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fenland…a vast area of open skies and distant horizons, criss crossed by a lattice of artificial waterways…straight as an arrow.
I hope that viewers will be engaged by the layers of colour, texture and surface qualities of this cold wax painting and also that they will respond to the physicality of this work, the numerous marks, striations and incisions in the cold wax material. I hope too, they will enjoy the interaction of disparate surfaces and layers and the sense of time passing through the landscape and through the painting.
This painting reflects a diverse series of influences; from the ‘art povera’ movement, through minimalism, expressionism and colour field painting.
The additional photographs provide a clearer understanding of the translucency, subtlety and rich texture of the surface.
Detail from ‘The New Voyager’
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.