Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Until the world is well again

With a tinge of regret, it dawns on me that my solo show at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery was due to open today. Looking on the bright side, however, its postponement will enable me to realise ideas for three additional paintings that wouldn't otherwise have seen the light of day.

The first of these, Maytime, shown in its early stages below, is now close to resolution. 

The pattern on my protagonist's elaborately tattooed back (it was the devil of a thing to paint) is based on a detail from Autumn and Winter, an embroidery by May Morris, a prolific and influential designer and embroiderer whose works are sometimes erroneously attributed to her more famous father, William Morris. There will be more about May Morris in future posts.

Maytime, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm (progress view)

I've learned a great deal from making this work, particularly in regard to the handling of paint, and have been able to apply some of that knowledge to a couple of earlier works that were sorely in need of fine-tuning. The paintings Snake Tattoo and Rambling Rose were made in the small third bedroom of my former house, which served as a makeshift studio in the lead up to last year's move. The light in there was poor and this translated into the works as a kind of dull airlessness. Their tonal imbalance, painfully obvious in my new well-lit studio, has hopefully been corrected.

In the past few weeks there have been days when I couldn't face going into the studio. The most important lesson I've learned of late is that in a world over which I have no control, being in there is my salvation. The show may not go on - at least, for now - but the work can still continue.