This possibly the most abstract of my paintings since Seeing Red. It came out of the pondering of my tree paintings I’ve been doing, and a title that popped into my head: “Listening to Earthworms”. It’s now at the leave-it-alone-for-a-while-and-don’t-fiddle-with-it stage. I’ve got another canvas out to pursue some of the ideas that doing this has generated (such as silver birch tree trunks rather than oak browns, stronger contrasts between light and dark in the band of trees, more muted colour overall).
The starting point for these three studies was quinacridone gold, a transparent pigment. Spread thinly over white it’s got a rich inner glow. Used thickly it’s surprisingly dark, and mixed with titanium white you’ve got an opaque earthy-red gold. It’s been a while since I’ve used it, and wanted to get familiar with it again. Other colours I used include perelyne black, magenta, ultramarine blue, and burnt umber. Here are the studies side by side for easy comparison:
The sale of “Listening to Leaves Falling” at Skyeworks to a family from Germany means I’ve only one large forest painting at the moment: Wodeland. (No, that’s not a typo, it’s related to the painting being dominated by blue.) Definitely time to translate another of various woodland images bouncing around my mind onto canvas and to finish Tartan trees. Maybe start with the latter so it’ll be ready for the Lochalsh Art Fair towards the end of August.
Wanting to move away from the blues and greens of recent paintings, I decided I’d start a forest painting with a seriously intense colour, magenta. It does still tie into reality through foxgloves and pink-purple heathers, so there is a little landscape-painting logic behind the choice.
I started with adding some texture in thin vertical strips for tree trunks, then once this has dried I brushed over magenta. I added a little red to this for a bit of variation, then left it to dry before starting to layer in colour that will ultimately read as “tree trunks”. If you’re wondering about the background, I did this at Skyeworks Gallery.
This is still a work-in-progress. I have some idea of where I’ll go next (such as refining the darks), but have left the painting at Skyeworks so I’ll have to see if what I’ve in mind still applies when I see it again on Wednesday.
One comment so far from someone who’s seen it has been that it’s “tweed handbag colours”, referencing the bright pinks popular in modern tweeds. Any other suggestions?
When it’s bluebell season, the colours in woodlands changes yet again. In some places the flowers carpet the woodland floor, influencing the colour of everything you see, almost as if I’m wearing turquoise-tinted glasses. This painting is a compilation of memories of walking and sitting amongst bluebells in different woodlands. The dominant colour used was a phthalo turquoise, a strong, staining colour that easily takes all your mixed colours on your palette if you’re not paying attention. It also teaches you to clean a brush properly because if there’s a little left in a brush, you’ll know about it!
This detail from the painting is about life size. As you get closer and closer to the canvas, the pieces of paint start dissolving into a colourful chaos. It also reveals the different colours in the dark background, created with various glazed layers. The variation in colour showing through is created by working with a big brush and not meticulously covering every millimetre but letting there be ‘missed bits’.