27 June 2012

the challenge

I woke up this morning and I told myself "I will finish the morse code canvas today".  This is my intention, and this is my challenge.  I have a deadline to submit the painting for a competition this Sunday.

I begin in the loft, but very soon move the canvas outside, propped up on paint tins again.  I flood the blackness with Phthalo blue straight from the tube, then lighten the glow where it should bounce back off the craggy crevice, using a soft brush to gently blend.  I touch up the very edges of the crack with white to show the light glinting back off the rock. I dry brush a mid-to-light blue spilling out of the crack and leaking out onto the vertical rock surface. I take it too far on the top of the crack.  I curse myself and take a break.

By the afternoon, threatened by rain, I have moved inside to the spare bedroom with the canvas stood on a box. I am in crisis. I have taken photos and looked at them on a computer to get a slightly different perspective. I find myself thinking I am not good enough to paint, that I should just give up. None of that thrill that I get when things are going well and the neon is singing to me. No, none of that. I sit and stare. I feel feverish with nervous energy, knowing that I need to get this finished today, and to my satisfaction.  I drink a beer. Quickly... A decision: I turn the canvas upside down and knock back some of the over-exaggerated spilling glow with oil paint, charcoal, indian ink and water. Flip it back round and take another photo. It goes on like this until I feel I can do no more. Am I happy with it? I look back at the tiny dots and dashes of light: how about re-instating those little flares of light from each of them?

At some time just around 5pm I down tools. I cannot tell if it is good, but I need to take photos before the light goes. Maybe when I look at them tomorrow I will be happy with what I see, but for now I feel empty and just a little bereft.  It has been a long day, and I leave the morse code canvas which shall henceforth be known as Cry For Help 2.

20 June 2012

Be brave Wednesday Painter

A short day, werking on the blue morse code canvas. It has taken me this long to realise the neon dots and dashes would benefit from being placed deeper in the dark recess.  Essentially this will involve re-rendering the blue neon glow from the centre out.  This is usually a long job, but I need to get it done today, as I'm planning to have this painting finished by the end of next week's session.

Time to take some risks and not be so precious over months of werk. Be brave Wednesday Painter, be brave...

I have found myself increasingly resorting to small sable brushes for the fine detail brushwerk around the pin-points of light. I hold my breath and try to steady my hand as I close in to make my mark. I find it too intense to werk for more than a few minutes at a time. I think I might scream.

I certainly prefer the broader, freer brush strokes I can make as the glow spreads out from the nucleus.

I leave it for lunch and some internet procrastination.

By around 3pm I am running short of time. I clean my brushes and hang the painting inside where it will get some light and hopefully be dry enough to werk on next week, when I plan to tackle the glow around the edges of the rock-face and hopefully get the bloody thing finished.

13 June 2012


Out in the studio and raring to go.  I cracked straight on with the blue 'morse code' painting, determined to get the glow along the edges looking better, and to get the blackness looking deeper and darker.  I ended up with it propped up on two paint tins against the garage door - giving me the opportunity to get some much needed distance from the canvas.

Things were going well and after adding a little glint of light to each of the dots and dashes, I retired up to the loft to clean my brushes. 

And then THUD! I dropped everything and rushed down the ladder to find the canvas face down in the dust and dirt.

A minor clean up operation ensued, removing specks of dust and grit from the fresh paint - this isn't the first time this has happened, so you would think I would have already learned my lesson.  But no, I curse myself and do my best to clean up what had been a pristine coating of paint.  The painting is now safely on the wall in the house, hopefully away from any more dust and crud...

After lunch I gave my mind a bit of a wander with some Sub/conscious drawings. The result: more animals, clowns and speed demons spilling from my brain.

I need a change from painting neon, and with just an hour or so before I head home, I render the balconies on the Le Corbusier canvas in jolly shades of blue and yellow, as they are on the actual building.

7 June 2012

hasty actions

I am a day late to the studio at her majesty's behest. Though even then I didn't take the full 2 days off to join in the Jubilee festivities/banalities. In fact I pretty much avoided it all as best I could.

To break myself back in this Thursday morning, I set to making another batch of 'Sub/conscious drawings'. The results left me baffled and bemused, and one particular drawing made me laugh out loud. Can you guess which one?

And now for my next trick!  The blue 'morse code' is taken in hand and given some care and attention.  I'm yearning to get this one finished in the next few weeks, so I'm in the mood to try certain hasty actions which will hopefully pay off.  Today I smothered the darker areas of glow in Phthalo blue, and knocked back some areas where the light catches on the craggy rock-face.

Don't want to go too far, so I leave it there. And move on to the '...RUGS&...' canvas, to which I lay down a pale pink border to the letters and blend it inside and out.  Mainly to rid it of any leftover and unwanted pencil marks from the initial sketch. Still time after this to block in a quick layer of deep and luxurious crimson red.

I leave a tired and satisfied Wednesday-cum-Thursday Painter.