I spent a number of days walking amongst the trees and gathering information for a series of paintings through drawing and photography; I absorbed the sights and sounds of the trees in the forest and found a way to recreate something of that experience in paint.
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. I have included up a number of close up photographs to give some indication of the extremely rich and highly textured surface of the painting; you can also begin to see in the reflections, the depth and lustre contained in the burnished wax.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
’Til it’s gone…
Joni Mitchell, from “Big Yellow Taxi,” lyrics written circa 1967–68
This is a mixed-media landscape painting on a 60cm x 60cm deep edge canvas; it is semi abstract and minimalist in terms of technique and style. I have based the painting on my day to day experience of living in the determinedly understated Fenland landscape of East Cambridgeshire in England. The heavy texture of the painting combines gesso, sand, plaster and oil paint and is applied with a variety of tools and implements. The surface is built up in successive layers over a period of time….if you walked across it you would need to clean the mud off your shoes with a knife. You may detect the influence of the contemporary German artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter.
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………….
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.