As well painting many of my more traditional images on sized paper, sometimes in acrylic, oil or a combination of acrylic and oil, I often use stretched canvas or canvas board when working on larger, more experimental paintings. The resistance and texture of the canvas is often more interesting to work on and takes a wider variety of painterly marks. All of these images can be found as giclee prints elsewhere on this site:
Notes on painting technique
Despite the apparent abstraction of these paintings I have kept fairly tightly to the form and structure of the found image, gridding the canvas board like an ordinance survey map and charting each contour and line faithfully from the photographs I have taken earlier. Using these reference points the image is drawn out using charcoal, pencils and ink. Thin washes of acrylic are added to map out the areas of colour and where necessary to soften edges and add texture.
From here I start building on the acrylic foundation with thin washes of oil paint, which I often wipe away before it has completely dried leaving faint residual stains on the canvas.
As well as painting with brushes I also often make use of sponges, rags and tissues to apply increasingly thicker layers of oil paint which can rubbed away or ground into the surface of the painting. The history or archaeology of the marks and layers of the painting are important to me. Occasionally I will brush on a paint stripper such as “Nitromors” and scrape back the layers to uncover earlier lines and ghostly forms. Slowly thicker layers of paint are added, accidental marks are not only tolerated but actively nurtured and finally thin glazes of almost transparent primary colours are layered over each other.
Coastal Textures - Oil on canvas board
A new series of larger ambiguous and more “abstract” oil paintings exploring and developing my earlier coastal theme of shoreline objects breaking down through the action of the elements. In these I am "zooming in" on each object to the very blueprint of its construction and destruction, exploring the minute and inconsequential worlds that hide unnoticed within the much larger and more recognisable forms that we see as rocks, rust or splintered wood. These paintings attempt to chart the individual continents, islands, and oceans that make up a patch of faded and chipped paint, the canyons and ravines in a splintered piece of wood and the faint maps of ancient coastlines etched by erosion on the exposed face of a rock.
The FALLEN ANGEL NUDES series of oil paintings
These paintings draw on an eclectic range of influences that include Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Caravaggio and even the famous pin up artist of the 1940’s an 1950’s, Alberto Vargas! The painting techniques are Bacon whilst the poses are a nostalgic nod to the glamour of the 1940’s. The individually coloured backgrounds that give each painting its sub title are stained into the raw stretched linen with acrylic and the oil paint is then applied with brushes, rags, sponges and fingers.
There are many types of easels: Desktop easels, which can store brushes and pencils and which sit on a table, portable easels that collapse to nothing and resemble something out of “war of the worlds” when finally unfolded, and studio easels which can handle vast canvasses. The Windsor and Newton Radial easel has been my personal choice for the last 30 years. It is as far as I am concerned the artist’s weapon of choice; The AK47 of the art world!
Not without reason is this the easel you will find in every serious art school and evening class. Its cheap; (hovering between £40-£70 since the 1980's), robust and versatile. It will handle anything from a tiny watercolour to a 6 foot square canvas and can be folded up and stacked in a corner when not needed. adjusting the various butterfly nuts that hold it together can be a bit of a chore, but this beast will outlive you!