Wednesday, 7 January 2015

'O Death'

100 x 77cms, oil on canvas, 2014-15
…and into 2015. I’ve just completed this painting over the break. It’s smaller than the last one at only 1m tall, and painted more loosely. This wasn’t a conscious act on my part. It’s just how things developed. I also think this ‘looseness’ was easier to achieve thanks to the red ground I applied first, and have been applying to all my recent paintings. I began to do this as a way of eliminating the painting underneath, as most of my recent paintings have been worked over over pre-existing ones which I have been unhappy with (many actually on this website which is a bit of a concern! I really need to update the pages on it). 
These grounds have also allowed me to create more depth in the colour and painting surface by experimenting with rubbing back to the exposed ground and also glazing on top of parts or applying thin washes of paint over the red. The green passage on the left is a good example of this, and I found laying this almost fluorescent green in really took things into unexpected areas. Against the bright pink, which combine with the slashing shadow shapes, things became much more dynamic than I anticipated.   
I really like the Franz Kline like black shadows and the treatment of space in this part of the painting now. It gives the painting a slightly different character than the previous ones.

I was a bit unsure about painting the lorry so directly with this frontal view, and worry a bit about any associations with Yorkie Bars and Ginsters Pasties, but I think I’m managing to avoid these issues. The black, blank windscreen appears pretty forbidding. I was looking at it earlier this evening and Ralph Stanley’s ‘O Death’ came on the i-pod, and in a peculiar sort of way it provoked me into thinking the lorry had a sort of appearance of the Grim Reaper appearing at the end of a lonely, nocturnal street. I guess most of these paintings are a meditation on death in one way or another.

I need to cheer up, or stop thinking so much. It’s only January…!

Here’s a link to the wonderful Ralph Stanley singing ‘O Death’:


1 comment:

Hugh Marwood said...

I think that portion of green and pink ground is an example of what is often called 'Bravura Painting', Shaun.

Always good to see what paint can do that nothing else can.