I was mindful of the tips I’d heard about scaling up in size, brushes need to be larger, marks need to be bigger, the paint needs to be mixed in larger quantities and all of these are true. Although I knew this, it was still rather challenging to understand what they really meant until I was actually practising it.
One of my intentions this year was to go bigger and paint on a larger scale.
Coincidently (is it ever really…?) a UK art supplier (www.loxelyarts.co.uk) had contacted me in December and asked me if I’d like to collaborate with them, they would supply me with some canvases in exchange for a short promotional video which could be shared on our respective social channels. This was perfect for me, not only did I intend to scale up my paintings this year, I also wanted to start a vlog and begin recording process videos.
Faced with the 1m x 1m canvas I was filled with excitement I think it was the expansive feeling I had of being able to stretch across the whole surface. I began with markmaking to warm-up and instinctively knew I was already comfortable with working on that scale. It quickly became a very physical, full-bodied experience, being able to move with my whole body to reach and swoop across the surface to make marks. I felt very free and expressive. The mark making was followed with some light colour washes to create something more substantial to respond to. I used super large brushes to fill most of the surface. See the image below to get a feel for the various stages the painting went through from there.
I liked the painting at many points but looking back, it was the scale which felt exciting. I knew I had to continue building up layers to achieve the sense of history in depth I was looking for. Many times through the process, I remember how I had to really push myself to take it further, it was certainly challenging as I didn’t really know where I wanted it to go, I was very much led by intuition and just had to trust it. Working in such a free and expressive way, so many wonderful things were happening along the way but I had to continually remind myself not to be afraid of losing those precious areas and trust that more sensitivity and richness would be revealed again. There was more sitting, staring and rotating with this piece than with any other painting I can remember (I’m talking hooooours here). I began to use inks and glazes to define certain areas which I felt were almost resolved at this point I really felt it start to come together.
So there it was, an array of gorgeous blues and greys, large swathe of paint combined with delicate pencil marks, pockets of curiosity across the entire surface but I thought, ‘hmmm… there is something missing here…’
I'm drawn to a lovely desaturated orange and thought, ‘yes that's it’ -
I mixed up the colour and wondered if I could do, it I wondered if I could risk everything I've worked so hard on that I've sat and stared at for hours and hours but I knew I had to.
So with a large brush ladened with paint, on it went! I felt it was definitely the right decision, a risk of course but it was on the verge of feeling too safe if I'm honest. It was like I could melt into it, which of course I love - but I also wanted to create a slight shift, a curious response. I’m not sure I can clearly articulate what mean but basically, I didn’t want it to feel too ‘safe’.
I quietened the pinky / orange with a barely there wash, just to take the edge off of it. I also added little pops of it in other places to balance it out a little, again, knocking them back slightly so they sang out, but not too loudly.
Completing this painting was quite a journey in which I felt all of the emotions, excitement, hope, fear, doubt, ‘oh my word where is this going??’ quickly followed by, ‘oh my word I love this!’ hahaha. Oh yes the emotional rollercoaster was well oiled and working to perfection!
Overall I loved the process, I'm extremely happy with the painting and I can't wait to get started on the next biggie - this one is aptly titled ‘Come with me’ - an invitation for you to join me on this next chapter of my art journey
‘Come with me’ is now available - £850 (excl. shipping) / framing options available.