My latest series has seen me venture away from using bold, contrasting colours and into a more subtle style. Using a limited palette and simple materials has interested me for a while. My previous series ‘Red & Blue’ was made using Cadmium red and Cobalt blue built up in lots of very thin washes over black. I found that working on top of black paint changes the way you see colour and this is emphasised even further with changes in light. The tonal ranges seem much more apparent when you build up the paint gradually as opposed to mixing different values.
The subject of my pieces can sometimes seem intricate and complex, working with shape and line is almost architectural in its process. The contrast between this subject and the simplicity of materials is fascinating to me.
Working with bare cotton canvas has opened up new possibilities for this style of working as you can manipulate paint in a way that is not easily done on a primed surface. The first thing I noticed is how absorbent the cotton fabric is. Applying undiluted paint to this surface creates a very muted, matte finish. I straight away started experimenting with heavily diluted washes, using water and a tiny amount of pigment, similar to watercolour. As the paint absorbs the water it leaves behind the small amount of paint, creating a very subtle, translucent wash. By adjusting the quantities and manuluipulating the solution on the canvas I was able to make forms that appear almost as if they were drawn with pencil or charcoal, not with paint on canvas.
Up to this point I have been working with the bare canvas on a very small scale but this week I have started stretching 3 frames each at 1.5 x 1.2m. In the coming weeks I will be using what I have learnt so far and applying it these much bigger surfaces, hopefully creating something quite striking and original. I have never worked on a scale this big before and the large canvases seem quite imposing in my small studio, but I think as an artist it is so important to take yourself out of your comfort zone and keep experimenting.