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Supporting Material & Photography
Throughout this project I have attempted to explore different forms of pictorial space.
Planning these large compositions is akin to solving a jigsaw puzzle but with many different alternatives, not only in the choice of images and objects, but also the spatial arrangement, colour and tonality. Selection is rarely easy. The initial drawing only suggests the complexity and detail of the finished painting. Once the idea is established I transfer it onto tracing paper allowing me to move images around within the composition. I usually work on a grid allowing me to work out the tension and geometry of the positive and negative shapes, as well as easing the process of enlargement to the proportionally gridded surface.
When the skeletal design of the main elements is drawn onto the panels, I then add further refinements and layers of detail at this larger scale. The composition is therefore fully realised as a detailed drawing before the painting begins. I have always worked on board, never canvas, as I prefer a hard smooth ground. Thinned oil paint is applied in washes allowing the initial drawing (and sometimes part of the grid) to show through in places. The brush marks from the initial priming contribute to the surface quality while elements within the composition are emphasised with touches of brighter colour more heavily applied.
Many of these works have a long gestation - it takes time to assimilate and order research collected from many different sources over several years.