I’ve decided to start this blog to document how it feels to be on the last half of the last semester of the last year of my degree in Fine Art. There’s only another eight weeks or so to go before it’s all finished, and then five years of study will have come to an end. No wonder I’m thinking of having a party to celebrate!
Today I’ve started on the biggest canvas I have ever worked on. It’s not the biggest painting, because that was a wall painting I made last year as part of a project with Crescent Arts, which was roughly 12′ high and at least 20′ long. No, not the biggest painting but certainly the biggest canvas. This support is a free standing construction faced with hardboard, with canvas glued onto its surface and stands 6′ high. It’s about 15’long, but in a double wave shape. A bit like having my own wall to paint, with the additional challenge of curved surfaces.
So far I have worked on it in gesso, so that some parts of the canvas have one or two layers, or none at all, to see what marks can be made with paint that will be subtly different. Today I dribbled a very watery mix of acrylic paint from the top, some ultramarine, some burnt sienna, just to start the thing off. Now I’m thinking what a mess it looks, but I realise that all this is only underpainting, and most of it may be lost as other work goes over the top. I love working on this size, but it’s scary not having a finished idea in my head as to what it will eventually look like. This is how I usually paint, not knowing what the result will be, but each time there’s a real frisson of anxiety, which I suppose is part of the excitement of painting.
One of my problems will be refining what I’ve learnt about my subject. As landscape artist Peter Hicks likes to point out, it can’t all go into one painting, which I find rather a relief. My work at the moment is based around the archaeological dig at Star Carr, just outside Scarborough. I’ve gathered information about the site, been there, and tried to understand what’s going on there, and what went on thousands of years ago. There’s an awful lot in my head about this subject, and I can see that it’s going to keep me occupied for a couple of years.