My friend, art lecturer and respected RBSA member, Ann Hackett had been advising me for some time to, ‘Go big!’… and so in the latter half of 2022 I decided to do just that. Or at least, begin working substantially larger than anything I had previously done.
I went into the new body of work without any real clear idea of the direction I was going to head or even which medium to use. However, I soon started laying down a few lines onto the lovely handmade 1000 x 800mm canvas, that I had recently bought from The Framers Gallery in Wolverhampton.
I started with the ‘table top’ or irregular quadrilateral, in the lower third of the canvas and from there, I just went with my own instincts and whatever thoughts cropped up. There wasn’t a ‘still life’ set up or any particular place in mind – the whole subject and composition was just put together from my own brain. There was a bit of a nod to the Purism Art Movement of the 1920’s, and in particular to Roy Lichtenstein’s later take on Purism, in the use of the painted border / frame and the introduction of archways.
The only other decision I had to make was which medium to go with. I knew I wanted to achieve a really nice, deep red vibe with no other colours whatsoever. In the end I decided to go with a combination of acrylic and emulsion.
I am not going to go through my entire process for the painting. I’ll maybe save that for another day – but once I was sure that it was finished, I took it to show Ann. Our mutual friend and WSA committee member, Simon Tew was also there. I was nervous showing them the painting for the first time. After all, it was my first delve into larger work and it was a step away from the ‘style’ I had been creating previously. However, I shall never forget their response… They couldn’t have been more positive and encouraging, and some of the words they used to describe it, will stay with me for ever.
One piece of advice they both gave me was to, “Do more!!… Do lots!”… and so that is what I began to do. I very soon began work on what would become ‘One for the Road’. The canvas was the same dimensions and the same colour pallette. I wanted this new piece to have a definite resemblance of the first, but not be a direct copy. And so, I hid ‘Some Quiet Reflection’ away whilst I carried on painting.
Before I knew it, I had a pair of large RED paintings completed, and I wanted to do more! However, I wanted to mix it up a bit, and made a conscious decision to change the canvas dimensions to a narrower 500mm (keeping the 1000mm height) and introducing an electric ocean blue colour… a real contrast to the first pair.
The second pair, ‘Always Tomorrow’ and ‘The Last One’ were completed a few weeks later AND just in time to be put forward for selection to the Walsall Art Society Exhibition at the New Art Gallery in Walsall (Nov 22 – Jan 23). Thankfully they were ALL accepted.
It wasn’t until I was in the early throes of the fourth painting, ‘The Last One’, when I really thought about the possible significance of there being bottles and glasses in each of the group of paintings. It hadn’t even occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, it was some deep subconscious effect of my having taken the decision to give up drinking alcohol, a few loooooong months before.
I am no psychologist, maybe there is a link or maybe there isn’t. It would kind of make sense. Giving up the booze was a really big thing for me. I loved drinking and still to this day I miss it (180 days at the time of writing – not that I am counting of course!!).
Whatever the reason for the subject matter, creating this body of work helped me through a few tough months in a cathartic sort of way. The title of the first painting, ‘Some Quiet Reflection’ had already been thought of, but the titles of the subsequent works were brought about AFTER my significant connection between the art and the booze…
I really enjoyed doing the four paintings AND there is a potential for there to be more ‘pairs’ to be painted in this body of work. I was really pleased with how they looked at the Walsall Gallery, and look forward to maybe exhibiting them elsewhere, in the near future.
Thank you for reading this post and for your support. If you are interested information on any of these paintings, please drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org