18 August 2020

San Giorgio in Australia

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 12 August 2020, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

These two studies were done within days of one another. They look as though the sea and sky were somewhat the same on both nights. They may indeed have been but what was really the same was my interest in pushing more pure colour with less white paint from the start. In them is more 'body', more substance than I typical use for the sky, in particular. They are quickly put down, and always start with the sky. This is completely different than how I have ever worked in my life. I had always established the 'shadows' before introducing the sky. In this series I jump into the sky first and consequently I was 'fixed' to the 'value' of the 'light', in this case the sky, for the rest of the painting. I am doing the reverse of what I have spent my life doing in painting. This abstract motif is well suited for this kind approach though.
I remember working this way at the very beginning in my earliest days of learning to paint. In Venice I made a small study of San Giorgio back around 1974 from my hotel room. It began to appear across the little white canvas board in very much the same way, as these as if I am conjuring up an image out of some part of my memory. Once put down, it is not touched again. It is finished.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 5 August, 2020, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

And then, there was this study done at the beginning of the series three years ago. I had been working in the studio, far away from a 'motif' so consequently I was aligned too closely with my memory only. It is of a very different conception, one more expressive, more painterly perhaps. I like it as much as the new things because I accept it. It reveals my deepest and often unconscious desire to go back into a childhood of messy play, something that was discouraged in my childhood. And yet, there is the rigour of design; of a contained picture, one coming out of a tradition of landscape albeit wild and free. It's pretty weird in fact.

I have come to understand that only continuous work will reveal the whole story of a painter's life. This is why it is imperative for him/her to keep working everyday if one is fortunate enough to do so. Every day, every new picture is the source of spontaneous pleasure and for me, it is akin to being allowed to return to the child's playroom, and a chance to revisit the scene of the crime, so to speak.

Brunswick Heads Brunswick Heads,  17 March 2018, oil on canvas board, 25 X 20 cm

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