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Little Big Thoughts:



Image/Surface is a conundrum I’ve been playing with for a few years.


The idea is this:

When I go to see paintings (in real life, not on screen) the first thing I do - instinctively - is go right up to the painting and almost lick it. Then, if it is a seductive surface, i feel like stroking it.

Only then do I start standing back and looking at the whole piece from further away.


I noticed this dual experience long ago, and have been trying to understand it: this ‘desire’ to first get to know the surface, enjoy the topography and the tactility of oil paint smeared in different ways on canvas, paper or wood. What is this strange dried paste that seduces me so much, like a fragmented ruined wall in an alleyway in Rome. The non-conceptual un- associative journey of the eye on a sexy surface. The skin of the painting holds many stories. Stories with no words. The thing about surface texture is that it can’t be done too consciously - mostly it is best when done spontaneously. There are instances when an artist has a very specific idea of what surface he wants in an area of the painting, but this can not be done over all the canvas, or else the “feel” of the painting gets into another of many traps. The trap of over-control, the trap of over-conscious. There is nothing quite like the mixture of spontaneity and control, it's a potent mix of energy and thought - ‘The Surface’.


Then you step back from the painting - this offers a completely different experience. Suddenly all you see are “things”: A body, a leg, a chair, a cloth…Jesus washing the foot of.. A Portrait of… Reclining Venus… - ‘The Image’.


But the experience of being close to the painting a few moments ago connects in your mind's eye the Paint, and the Image, and then the magic happens - it all connects, and your eye can wander in and out, all about, and enjoy the ‘Whole’. When it all connects (this is a very rare occurrence and what I hold in highest esteem), it’s like a miracle. Because your efforts while painting are so disconnected - you are working on this area, then that hand, a little here, changing that whole background, messing up there…it’s a mish mash of attempts, and if they all connect, it is a Miracle. This is what I call : Composition (or Composing)- 


This is the painter's job.

Rembrandt_van_Rijn_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project 5.jpg
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