I need thirty paintings for a show in a couple of weeks and started getting things together before I left for holiday. The exhibition is based on paintings of the area around where I live. Most are in a realist or naturalist style but I have one abstract work and although I have some expressionistic works I wanted another abstract to complement it. It then takes the viewer on both a topographic and a stylistic journey. On the plane home I had an idea for something reflecting the canal where I live and do a lot of my plein air painting.
This was the result and may get further tweaked in the next weeks. I did do a couple of pastel sketches, but felt that they were a little busy.
This was the first one and on the second I decided to kill some of the blue
I liked the idea of building up the complexity in the middle, but keeping the outsides open and airy and decided to emphasise that on my acrylic piece. Perhaps I have gone too far now. I will leave it alone and make a decision later.
As I worked on the acrylic piece I started to think of the Nile – a little distance from the Lancashire plain where I started out.
This was another response to to the forest walks we went on, described in previous blogs. In fact I completed this one before the last blog I posted. I tried some sketches first in pastel and in the end decided to combine them all for the final piece.
Any resemblence to Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie is coincidental and I did get increasingly aware of it as I built up the painting, with its lines and small blocks of colour particularly as he did some very inspiring trees as well – well worth a look at.
I have seen a number of poured acrylics recently and decided to have a go myself. I have always liked the effects of poured paint and experimented with it around ten years ago with oil based gloss paint and below is one of my more successful ventures, Marrakech, which, because of the lightfastness of the gloss paint, now hangs in my conservatory.
I did not think you could get the same filigree effects with acrylics that you could get with the more viscous oil paint and so mainly used the liquid acrylics in a more dilute way such as in Dancing the Blues Away, which I posted some time ago, in 2015, on this blog.
So my prejudice has been exposed and I realise it might be worth experimenting with the liquid acrylics in a more concentrated form. I must admit my first attempt included as much manipulation as pouring as I played around with the paint with a palette knife, but the strands and swirls gave a satisfying result and looking at some of the work other people have produced, further variations can be had with the addition of silicone oil. I will be having a few more goes.
I posted some smaller versions of this a few weeks ago as a trial, and following that I decided to work larger and prepared a canvas with seven layers of gesso to get a smooth surface, sanding down between coats. In the end the smooth surface didnt give the effect I was after which was to increase the flow and mixing of the paints. Still, I was able to develop the theme of searching out form in random marks which has grown whilst I have been working on these pieces – the propensity for the eye to search out otherwise indistinct forms amid the chaos of random mark making, to try to gain insight and purpose into what has been presented.
I quite like this notion which feeds into other themes I have explored in my painting, so despite the setbacks at the start not all has been lost.
I was playing around looking at creating surfaces in abstract ways using tone and colour temperature, but drifted off when things didn’t go as planned and playing around came up with this. As it was quite small and on paper I thought about trying it on a 50x70cm canvas.
I liked the juxtaposition of the organic/formless aspects and the hard defined shapes which I then played around with, breaking up edges and working into. The canvas version is below and I think that it has some merits, although I couldn’t get the mixing I got on the paper – the weave of the canvas preventing it. What I could do is coat the canvas with gesso and sand down. I have found seven applications and sanding gets a flawless surface which might emulate paper and allow me to get the effects I got on the paper. Or I could just go with paper, but then I would need to think about the kind of support I would need.
I will be pondering on this. Meanwhile, other abstract paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com
Working on a handmade canvas I thought that I might revert to a style I once adopted. Ironically I used more colours in this painting than in many of the watercolours I paint and it took a lot longer with all the preliminary sketches and the assessment of the marks and then there were the corrections – it fair wore me out.