Layering the greys

Before and during my exhibition ‘A Wonder World for Enid’ in the University of Leeds Clothworkers’ Hall, I am blogging about the paintings, where they came from and how they were made.

A body of work demonstrates both continuity and change. Continuities across the Enid paintings include the flower-like forms, intense colour under greys, layers and blending, a gap.

                             What’s true?      acrylic on watercolour paper     34 x 36 cm    

                          What’s true?   acrylic on watercolour paper   34 x 36 cm   

When I'm painting, the painting process is what drives me: creating texture and colour, deciding on the space between forms, suggesting light and shade or movement. I especially get involved in making the greys. My favourite grey comes from mixing indigo and burnt umber with titanium white. I love the process of mixing the paints until colour is almost lost in a black. Different colour combinations make different blacks, and some of the paintings use alizarin crimson with viridian green.

I take at least three passes over the image with grey. The first one encloses interesting sections of colour. These sections are then more carefully enclosed, developing their own shape and integrity. A second pass considers the whole and removes several sections one by one, each time considering the effect on the whole. The third pass requires most courage. It's the "kill your darlings" phase when any sections that are too 'lovely' or decoratively harmonious are removed. This stage goes very slowly.  I can change my mind if I do it immediately and wipe off the paint with a damp cloth. The wiping off sometimes itself creates a blurring that I like, and leave.