Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The 'art' of my hard-edged, Pop-inflected enamel paintings is all in the initial study image. I draw and collage it from a series of reference photographs even before I order the canvas. I use it not only to work out the overall composition but also to plot the 'tracing' of a black outline that defines different areas of colour. The painting itself is a technical exercise: large areas of colour are applied in a rigorous, carefully calculated schedule of coats and drying times to create a seamless, lustrous surface, then outlines are painted with painstaking but fluid precision. It's intense, focussed and tedious – and almost entirely devoid of passion. Given the size of my recent canvases, many of which measure two to three metres across – "Nothing in the photos you see of them prepares you for just how big and imposing they are," someone commented just yesterday – it's also physically demanding.Not least because I'm inhaling a carcinogenic miasma of enamel fumes that hangs like a shroud over the studio.I can't wait to finish the half a dozen works in progress right now. Once they're delivered, I'm going to spend a couple of weeks working on a dozen small watercolours to 'illustrate' tracks from Amanda Palmer's latest CD, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under. Amanda has encouraged a lot of leeway in how I interpret her songs and while the more lurid sex, violence and syncretic religious references of my non-enamel work might have to be toned down a bit for her fans (the Voodoo-inspired watercolour above is an early idea I rejected), the medium will encourage me to be more intimate, expressive, and unrestrained as the ideas flow directly from my hand to the paper.The indiscipline will do my work – and my head – good. I miss the inadvertent, the unforeseen; I miss the surprise and havoc they can wreak.