'Limbs', oil on canvas, 150 x 100cms, 2020
The paintings shared in the last post were not actually the first ones I made during the lockdown. That was this one (top) which I had been working towards for some time through various studies. It’s based on photographs I had taken at a corner of Moseley Bog of tangled and cut-up tree limbs stretching back into a space. I have been fascinated by it for ages for some unknown reason. In some ways I consider myself a walking artist in my process: collecting images by camera, sometimes by drawing, often by remembering and going back to places where I have seen things. I have no real goal at the time other than just recording, and then using this material when the time feels right.
Study in charcoal for 'Limbs'
Although I’ve e been working towards this painting for some time, when I finally started on it in the first week or two of the Covid crisis it very much felt like it reflected something of my own slightly fractured psyche after being at home self-isolating. I had been pretty unwell in that first week, displaying many Covid-like symptons, which in retrospect were probably just a heavy case of seasonal flu but with no test available you just never knew and I still don’t. I did feel really lousy for a week though.
Painting in earlier stages
The finished painting looks pretty heady with a lot of motion, which is a far cry from what I originally intended. I was looking at Matisse’s landscapes just before this and had a vague notion of doing something that possesses something of the air in those paintings but I couldn’t have ended up with something less like that. It just developed into something much more claustrophobic and confusing with lots of conflict between the different forms and the colour which is almost psychedelic. I guess I just can’t paint like Matisse!
In the last year or so I have slowly been experimenting with colour with each new painting when I can. I try and get the light right, which is more difficult, and use colour to create more of a feeling for the subject. After finishing with it for now I put the painting aside thinking there were still things that needed resolving better, particular in the top half, but I had a look at it again a few days ago and thought better of it. There was something about it that spoke to me very much about the making of it and my state of mind that seem to give it an integrity that I thought I might lose if I start fiddling with it. We’ll see….