Oil on Canvas
My objective with this painting was to start using oil paints on canvas. I’ve mainly been using acrylic paints, and these behave quite differently. I can splash acrylics about in large quantities as the paint is quite sloppy and comes in big tubs. Oil paint comes in tubes and is thicker. I haven’t learned how to loosen it up – partly because I’m using Artisan water-mixable oil paints, and they do behave a bit strangely. I wanted to avoid using turps if possible, but I’m not sure the experiment is working. I’ll persevere until the tubes are used up, and then decide whether to continue with them.
Because of the difference in consistency, and because I mentally think of oil paint as more expensive, I find I’m working much more conservatively with it. I paint more slowly, partly because I’m getting used to the feel of the paint. I think this makes the painting less lively, but it is perhaps a more contemplative painting as a result. I’m struggling with proportions and need to do much more figure drawing, but I am enjoying painting figuratively. I never thought I would.
I’ve been reading about Paula Rego, and have become quite fascinated with the way she works with narrative. Her pictures are carefully crafted to tell a story, and the stories are usually slightly uncanny creating a sense of discomfort. I love her drawing, which is bold and confident. I’d love to be able to draw that confidently.
I thought your oils were dramatic. Re. the turps, Jim doesn`t use it – he uses something called Zest-it, which is a dilutant as well as a brush cleaner and has NO SMELL other than faintly citrus – huge advantage! It`s non-toxic and non-flammable too. Distributed by C.Roberson & co.ltd., 0207 2720567.suex
Thanks, Sue! I’ll check it out.
Having said above that I love the blurred faces in your work I am now going to completely contradict myself and say that I love the strong face of the woman in this piece. Each time I look at this image the woman’s face is the first thing that I must look at.
For me, there also seems to be a story here (I can sense your fascination with Rego). I have a feeling that the woman is turning away from the child both physically and mentally. And that the child is at a loss to know what to do, seems resigned. The fact that the woman has a strong face and the child has no face, although for me there is a huge amount said by the child’s body language from the way that she lets her arms hang down at her sides and looks up at the woman, leads me to feel that the image is about the feelings of the woman to the child, and the imcomprehension of the child.
And I have gone on a bit, haven’t I? The same way that I go on about about poetry.
Carole, as you can tell, I’m really enjoying your wonderful work, it is very inspiring. As I was reading the recent edition of Mslexia I couldn’t help thinking that many of your childhood images would sit very well amongst the poems and the stories.
It is so helpful to have your reading of the painting. I do agree that it seems to have some sort of narrative, and I find that quite exciting. I actually painted it from one of my photographs, and had no intention to tell a story. But as I work on the painting, it seems to develop a story of its own. One of my tutors keeps saying ‘listen to what the painting is telling you’, and I’m starting to see what he means. So instead of trying to get the painting true to the original photograph, I start to let the painting develop naturally. I like the idea that a viewer can build their own narrative around it.
I’m so glad that you are enjoying my work. It is very motivating to hear that, as I was starting to feel a bit low about it. As artists (and probably writers too), one of the recurring questions that we ask ourselves is ‘will anyone else be interested?’ So your feedback is like coming home hungry and being handed a home-cooked hot dinner. Thank you!
I love this painting Carole and I agree with you. To me, painting is about experiencing all your senses, not only about what you see in front of you. I don’t care much for likeness…I have a camera for that, but to see and feel emotion and movement in a painting, makes it come alive into a story, albeit my story/interpretation, as the viewer. It makes me connect with a painting…which is what makes people buy paintings after all?
Great work here.
I recognised your mother immediately, despite not having seen her for nearly 40 years.
Thank you, Catherine!
I should perhaps post a note here for the benefit of any future readers that although the painting is taken from a family photo, I did alter it slightly to give it a narrative feel and an ‘edgy’ mood. None of the readings above are autobiographically correct, although they can certainly be read from the painting. I actually had (and still have) a very good relationship with my Mum.