This painting took ages.

It started out as a portrait (oil on wood) of an imaginary character for a fictional story. I couldn’t get it the way I wanted it, so I abandoned it and ended up producing the image I wanted on another surface.

Several years later I  used the old portrait as the beginning of an abstract painting.

I spent about a week, on and off, working on it and could not seem to get it to a stage at which I was happy with it.


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I kept reworking it, but it never seemed coherent. I decided that it was a failure because it began from the structural lines of a representational image (the portrait) rather than a more considered division of the plane as I have previously done with abstract painting. On these grounds, I decided to abandon the project again.

Weeks later, I turned it upside down and stared at it for a while. Then, as is often the way with abstract painting, I noticed something that needed to change, and before I knew it I was painting over it again.


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It began to say something to me. For the first time in its evolution I began to enjoy the process of painting it (except for this final stage, I would describe the production of this work as an unpleasant experience). I had found an integrity within it, and most pleasing to me was that I found I could use colour to offset structure to some extent. In the last few hours I really felt like I was making progress, that I was engaged in a new kind of activity, a new kind of composition.



Despite its painful birth, I am very happy with this work. There are a hundred different paintings beneath the final picture (it’s actually quite a heavy object because it has such a thick layer of oil paint on it now).  There’s a hint of the early renaissance perhaps, the angelic host on high, surveying the impossible knot of human narrative (it somehow reminds me of Giotto). I don’t know what it says to be honest, but I know I couldn’t say it better.







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