Friday, 26 February 2016

City of Glass 39 - (Prophecy)

'City of Glass 41 - (Prophecy)'  60x30cms

It's taken a while but we have a new title....

A few new touches that seem that seem to make the painting stronger. The orange line lifts the eye to the top of the painting: there was a nagging suspicion that the tower had to be higher - no need for that now. The orange line slightly squeezes the space between the top of the painting and the head and draws attention away from the head which I think works. I've also tidied up the top of the tower making it sharper, stronger and the paint around the bottom left of the overcoat which was getting a bit murky. Touch of orange in the brown too. Fiddled a bit with the hand that looks like a club in image below! The title still not definite..I may know more when I've finished the second one..

I took out a heavy brushmark from the bottom left of the coat and refined the shape of the tower by carving out the 'ziggurat' steps at the top. Much stronger now...there are traces, residues, marks of interest within the tower, not sure there is any need for the island....might have to change the title, perhaps 'Obsession' Thinking about putting thin horizontal band on the top edge to squeeze the space with the top of the head and also lift the tower. Or put in a spire/radio tower cutting thru the collar..we'll see...

'City of Glass 39 - (Prophecy)'   60x30cms

I couldn't wait..the reveal...odd, exciting....just dealing with it at the moment... might take out the heavy outline, lose the figure a little or lose the blue or the figure entirely then re-draw the figure inside the tower...

Stronger drawing- love the curve of the back- and better browns that are starting to do something with the blues. Denise and I are missing the grey. I've run out of quick-dry medium so shall have to wait longer before the tower is removed. I have a same size canvas- lets do another one. This is quite a small piece- 60x30cms- perhaps i need to do one life-size...the purity of the early version (1) is still my favourite..


The 'City of Glass' series*, is dominated by three elements:the Tower of Babel, the island-shape of Manhattan and the figure of Stillman. Several of the paintings include two of the three elements, the idea behind this piece is to include all three. 

I started off with a straightforward representation of the familiar motif of Stillman. I was thinking about the sequence of 'Weeping Woman' paintings in the Edvard Munch exhibition at Tate Modern a couple of years ago, with the bowed head almost crushed by the low ceiling. Its' literalness was disrupted by smudge and disguise and a pour of blue and then by the introduction of the tower, made from wooden strips. A beautiful grey.

Then the figure of Stillman was re-introduced (2) - apologies for the brown, it's just Pollyfilla, building up the bulk of Stillman as I work out the composition. The painting tries to replicate the claustrophobia of the Munch paintings, the figure trapped by the four sides of the canvas. The plan, reviving a past process, is to remove the tower at some future point, to leave behind it's negative shape, seemingly carved out of the back of Stillman. Then we can work on the island-shape of Manhattan within that outline. Time to work.



'Weeping Woman'  Edvard Munch

*inspired by 'The New York Trilogy', a novel by Paul Auster

Friday, 19 February 2016

'Barcelona' , 'San Diego', 'Aircraft over Aberdeen'

 Three large harbour paintings from the 90's, a place can be defined by its' shape...

'Barcelona'  180x140cms

'Aircraft over Aberdeen'   180x120cms

'San Diego'  180 x 100cms

I really liked San Diego spending a week there on my travels. The orientation is switched so that north is at the top of the painting, the angled line is the Mexican border.  It is a painting of curves with the man-made elements picked out in tuned-up colours and straight lines and angles.  In the detail below I love the interplay and repeated motif of the cranes and the harbour-arms, aerial-view and image in harmony.