Deconstructing a painting (part three)

Don’t paint the photo




This sentence is written down and posted on the wall of my back studio (my ‘idea factory’) where I produce the studies and play with the ideas that eventually lead to a painting.


The Sri Lankan schoolgirls were an excellent case in point. Although I was able to jot down studies in my sketchbook at the scene as well note the mood, atmosphere and my own feelings and associations, I also took a lot of photos with my iPhone.


For me, using photos is a dangerous but sometimes necessary practice. Why? The photo records the visual facts and all the details like a good machine should do. But when the photos are back in my studio I realize I have not yet made any choices, I have not selected what I find important or non-essential. I haven’t yet distilled the image down to its essentials, which is what drawing is all about.


Beginning the painting



I’ve now made 50 or so drawings. I’ve entered into, become intimate with, filleted, analyzed, pulled the figures part and reassembled them. Time to affix two 110×120 cm. aluminum panels to my front studio wall and get started.


Using only rags saturated in indigo paint I move quickly across the white surface. I know my first run must be a statement.


Confident in what I have learned and yet nervous to be relying only on instinct and intuition I bolt out of the gate as a skier on a black diamond slope. A huge expanse of white looms before me.


The moment a dark is registered the response must be balanced, bold and beautiful.

Voices shout directions, encouragement, as I hurtle towards the right side, the finish line:

‘Hold the lyricism’   ‘Keep it open’   ‘Suggest, Don’t describe’    ‘Balance, Balance’




A good run.

I like it.

Actually I like it a lot.

But I won’t leave it here.

I like the placement.

The balance of dark and light is good.

Legs are not working.

The figures need to be tweaked and shifted around.

It reads like a poem for me now, a text I can’t quite decipher and yet suggests volumes.


To be continued…..




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