Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Best Kept Secrets (oil on canvas, 2015)

I work a lot.

I am often asked how long a painting took me to make – usually a difficult question to answer. My process involves a lot exploration, experimentation, improvisation, risk-taking and wandering down untrodden paths or into the wilderness where there is no path. I want to make images that I've never seen before, which makes it virtually impossible to simply sit down and "make a painting" from start to finish. A great deal of the time that I spend in my studio is devoted to drawing, much of which is very loose and gestural, drawing from observation, memory and my subconscious, whilst I keep a sharp eye out for pleasant surprises that emerge from the work. This happens not nearly as often as I'd like and much of the "work" that I do ends up in the trash bin. But the work is, nonetheless, an important part of my overall process.

This painting of the old McBride house, which has been the subject for numerous drawings and paintings over the past few years, began late one night, over three years ago, as a very small, experimental color sketch. I had covered a piece of paper with blue pastel and then smudged it with my fingers, sprayed it with fixative and then dew the house from memory in various blues. The drawing itself had a lot of problems, but I found the color scheme interesting and thought about developing it into something. But, as sometimes happens, the drawing got misplaced and I moved on to other things. Over the past few years, the drawing periodically surfaced, from the depths of a pile of papers or from underneath a table and I would always find it interesting and think about working it up into an image, but to no avail. Until earlier this year.

There were many more drawings, as I worked out the composition and color scheme, before I embarked on this painting, which is markedly different from the original sketch that was the impetus for the final image, which didn't have the shed or any trace of reds or red-violets in it. I enjoy allowing the images to come to fruition in there own time, as was the case with this one and many others. I like to be surprised and I like thinking that out in my studio right now are more small, rough, late-night sketches that may one day, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, become wonderful paintings.

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