In this, my third week in my new studio and with the majority of settling in accomplished, it felt right to get on with a piece of work that marks my arrival here.Last week, after painting my walls ‘sophisticated blue’ according to the paint chart, I prepared a canvas for work.
These are beautiful linen canvasses I import from Denmark and I’ve never painted on a better surface, such a joy to work on and a great size, 100 x 80 cm. I mounted it on an easel I’d made (see the last blog entry) and this allows me to paint the bottom unhindered. So, I mixed up burnt umber and indigo and got it on the canvas. Its been staring at me over the last couple of days while I painted my ceilings…. sophisticated blue of course and I’d been daydreaming of what I should paint. I had assumed I’d develop the beach study from last week but while walking my dog I took some photos, not my usual composition and decided on where I was going.
The scene is underneath the bridge on Paradisveien Marina here in Stavanger and a short walk from my studio. I knew there was something special about it and liked it as I drive or ride past it everyday, somehow, being on foot sealed the deal. I took several photos and decided on one that would work best for me. Working from photos is not ideal, I tend to paint outdoors a lot but the size of this canvas would take a while and be a logistical issue… it’d probably blow away into Sweden too. without further ado, I got squeezing my tubes onto my palette and blocking in.
Day two and after a strange evening thinking about the painting I decided the four posts supporting the bridge were short so the first thing I did was sketch the edit in with neat indigo, a colour I’m starting to have as a ‘go-to’ dark. Well, it looked shocking but I expected that until I built it back up with layers. The middle ground shifted down the canvas a bit so I had to re-work that and added depth to the trees and suggested activity on the opposite bank. Restructured the underside of the bridge, preserving the lines that walk the eye to the point of interest without them dominating. The foreground received some attention, kept simple so not to distract and with not so subtle line directing the eye. I was spooning on pure indigo to give me darks allowing the contrast to come out with the lighter ironwork areas. The last thing I did was tidy up of the buildings on the left and left the right side houses ambiguous. It feels like the end of day one had too realistic a feel and the end of day two is more of a painting. It’s all taste though.
Right now I am loving these big canvasses and the use of big brushes loaded with paint and the big fat brushstrokes produced. I’m working quickly and definitely rejecting the pursuit of realistic photo like work. For now I’m calling it ‘done’ it’s signed and I will fight the urge to fiddle. This painting is a slightly new direction, Norway has lots of mountain views, fjords, beaches… this is more urban and the composition is pleasing for me so there we have it. Please feel free to send a comment and give your thoughts if you like.