Talented Peregian Beach photographer Julie Hemsley did a publicity shoot at Marcus Creek of me when we exhibited at The Butter Factory Arts Centre in 2018. Apart from being successful in promoting our show, I knew that the photos had something that I wanted represent using paint – reflection in water.
The result? One subject, two abstract paintings using two different techniques to convey a sense of the red dress and yellow painting reflected on the surface of water.
Red Dress, Yellow Painting #1 evolved from an abstract work that that I had “retired” because I was unsatisfied with the result. On revisiting the canvas when mulling over ideas about reflection, it occurred to me that the shapes could be the basis for a work inspired by Julie’s photographic images.
The painting began to take on a new life; linear brushstrokes conveying the sense of distorted reflected shapes and disturbed water; thick opaque paint with no medium; textures from the underpainting adding subtle patterning and interest.
The process of painting the work evolved over five years. First, it was a purely abstract painting with no subject, then an abstract painting with a subject. Finally, in order to fully resolve this work, I had let go of the idea of a subject, and went back to seeing it as purely abstract. Full circle, quite a challenging process.
In Reflection – Red Dress Yellow Painting #2, I used the technique of glazing – building up the surface with successive layers of paint made translucent with medium so that the colours below show through, thereby alluding to something deeper than the surface.
I wanted to suggest a flat surface – water – at the same time as conveying movement on that surface, and the distortion that moving water gives to reflected shapes.
It was a technique I had used for the series of paintings exhibited at The Butter Factory, inspired by the sunlight shining through the tannin water of Marcus Creek, which, in the early morning light, has amazing reflective qualities.
I find that art is all the the richer when you discover something about the genesis of an artwork, the techniques that the artist used and the painting process. Perhaps that is because I paint myself. I’m curious to know whether others feel the same way or is viewing without knowing a rich enough experience.
Do either of these paintings resonate with you? If so, which one do you prefer and why?