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Crediton, Devon, United Kingdom

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Changing your mind and being brave......

Initial sketch on canvas 2012 ~ 28" x 36"

Stage 1 worked during early 2013

So to set the scenario - you look at your worked and reworked canvas which you've spent innumerous hours labouring over including many ponderous gazing moments (with a cup of tea in hand) evaluating it, pushing the paint around mentally and somehow (for often unfathomable reasons) it just isn't working.....something just doesn't sit right or it isn't speaking to you in the way you expected (this seems to happen to me a lot with pieces that I have invested particularly long hours in thinking they are wonderful).  Normally this means I reached the point in a painting where it either gets painted over, shoved to the back of the cupboard, or bottom draw-ed (the 'underworld') in the case of sketches.  Brutal, but necessary - the mojo has disappeared and you've become painting 'blind'. It's not a disease, but it can leave you feeling very poorly if you let it :).  This is exactly what happened with the above painting I started way back in 2012......the great plan was to have a big bull Elk in snow triumphantly seeing off a rival - hence the foreground line of hoof prints - all in a cold grey shivery winter scene, one of my favourite settings.  Now this seemed to work up until I basically couldn't make my mind up about the Elks colouration and in that process the whole of it's body became muddy and started to float as I'd altered it so much from the original undertones which kept it tonally in tune with the background.  That link was crucial and once lost the piece was essentially doomed.....yes, it could have been repainted, but my faith and confidence was gone and it headed to the cupboard.  Poor Elk....

Now I am not adverse to painting over canvasses previously used, I'm not precious about everything having to be perfectly 'new' and pristine with painted crisp white edges all of the time - my studio just doesn't allow me the space to be like that and I'm sorry, but I'm messy.  Hands up, the studio usually looks like a cross between a packaging warehouse//family loft space/garage//primary school art corner.  What to do with paintings you either don't sell, need or want anymore is an issue though and so if I have any absolute definite 'rejects' spare they are likely to be utilised (health and safety cap on -if you do this, you must ensure your canvas is sanded back so the new paint will have some tooth to adhere to and always wear a mask/respirator.  Oil pigment dust particles contain many toxins).  The Old Masters used to do this all of the time, so if it's good for them.... 

The Elk therefore made a reappearance at the beginning of this year and I became determined to revamp him, just this time with a new fresh impetus. I've been looking at and drawn towards a lot of contemporary impressionist landscape artists recently and all seemingly had one thing in common: colour.  Lots of it and lots of strikingly beautiful bold light. So I decided to use my favourite tool, opposite colours of blue and orange to inject some life into the whole scene, change the Elks position (I always thought he was too high in the initial painting) and use his head/rack as my focal point.

 Stage 2 worked January 2016

  The above image shows how the painting looks now (not yet finished), much more a study of colour even if the painting underneath is the polar opposite mood wise!  And yes, it is still the same painting.  I hope it is more successful in the whole as a piece, it certainly has more depth and sense of place to it.  It takes real bravery to basically erase an old piece of work, you do feel like you are destroying your own soul.  But....if the connection is lost with it why chase after a old flame?  We all move on and things evolve - as an artist I feel you should embrace that and don't be afraid of change.  It may be there to challenge you but ride it for a while, it really isn't as scary as you think :)

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