Represented by

On starting painting I

I do not seek my subjects – they  seem to come to me. I encounter them, whether in dreams or subconsciously. When they surface, they appear at my fingertips, or they can be felt presences. Sometimes, they arrive fully formed as a conscious thought, rather like the start of a performance at the theatre. I think you need eyes that listen.

This process is a trinity of discourse

  1. The composition: the construction of your music contains a narrative of forms
  2. The nature of the paint: the embodied, haptic discourse that penetrates your being with its tangible presence, pushing you towards physicality of otherness and substance outside of words
  3. Colour discourse: the large language that overtakes everything and transcends your imagination. Colour has a compelling poetry that argues for depth of meaning, overturning archetypes outside and inside time. Colour brings a mystery of ‘otherness’, questioning our existence.

Allowing colour to do its work

You must allow the colour to do its work and stand in the place of your energy. The paint needs to be  physically present, reminding you ‘here I am’. This then triggers and releases the music of the composition, expecting you to act and commit. Colour, composition, and paint create music that your eyes can then hear. This poetry is, sadly, mute in academia as it lies outside of words.

Composition (the construction of your music) contains a narrative of forms. So, what forms, rhythms, and repetitions of shapes and diagonals are you going to use? How will this become a part of your vocabulary and conversation in paint? As each of the six visual languages connects with your brain, what will you use or limit?

The six visual languages

The six visual languages of line, form, space, movement, tone, and colour come together. The more literate and super-aware you become of these six visual languages, the more you can see, associate, and connect with all aspects of your lived experiences. To use this language of paint instinctively, either consciously or subconsciously, is nothing to do with logic. If you start to reason too much, you may undermine the leaps you could take within the act of making. If you are constantly awake as you make and paint, continually searching for the meaning and metaphor of this trinity, you will begin to know when you’ve got near to the point of surprise.

Your composition is the whole of the content – the size, shape, and proportion of the world you have created. Your painting has identity and wholly linked to you. Therefore, the quality of the surface, what happens on it, invests a haptic metaphor for the aura of the painting’s performance, its expressive conversation.

When you start a painting, ask yourself ‘what does this need or want to become?’

So, what does this painting need or want from you? This is a mutual dance, an alchemy of matter and thought transformed by your imagination into a form. Perhaps areas of under-painting and colours will facilitate a new sense of excitement and challenge? So what could the colour family of the ground be? How will this ground bring identity, pitch, sound, quality and the right appropriate impressions to you (and the viewer afterwards)?

Releasing intention and ambition

The hue, tone, substance, and identity of your coloured ground can gesture time, mood, and flavour to diminish or highlight your intentions. I believe that these choices are pivotal as you embark upon a painting and discover the content of your composition. Your composition will probably need to be broken so that you can test and understand this unique world that you are making. You may even lose and find that composition more than once. All these factors need to be considered, felt, intuited, savoured, and even hallucinated. You may not even understand your choice of palette for your language-game. Your chosen ground colour is a unique conversation, asking ‘Who am I? Who shall I be? Let me be completely satisfying, even delicious and beautiful, to the point that I am almost enough on my own to hold this conversation.’

The surface of your painting needs to be a thing of wonder. If not, why not?

Yes, a painter needs eyes that listen.