Scale and sculptural ideas


170224 Pinocchio with Still Life (2017) oil on canvas 57.5 x 104cm

This is the second painting I’ve made using the new large easel. I pin the unstretched canvas onto a board and mount that on the easel. This is currently the largest size board I have, but I’ll be getting a larger one soon. For fun, I used Photoshop to mock up a picture of how the first two “new easel” paintings would look in a gallery. The dimensions are not accurate (the real paintings are smaller, unfortunately), but it gives a rough impression.


L-R: 170224 Pinocchio with Still Life (2017); 170222 Pinocchio with Dandelion (2017)

In the past when I tried to paint larger scale I’d plan the picture, sometimes working from a prepared image using the projector. Now I’m trying to improvise large paintings, the same way I improvise smaller ones. I start painting without a plan and make it up as I go along, making spontaneous decisions about content, composition, the angle of light, the space, etc. I prefer this way of working.


170224 Pinocchio with Still Life (2017), in process

Looking at the result, I can see I’m still adjusting to the larger scale. It’s full of objects that would each individually fit comfortably into the kind of smaller paintings I’ve been making recently.


[detail] 170224 Pinocchio with Still Life (2017) oil on canvas

This painting reminds me of Edward Gorey, although I wasn’t thinking about him while making it. I see the influence of Dana Schutz, M C Escher, and a little bit of Picasso, but something else is coming through. The candles and tumblers strike me as a sculptural idea, like C20th surrealist or post-ready-made type of thing, reminiscent of works by Mona Hatoum or Robert Gober (below). Likewise, the Pinocchio figure I painted a couple of days ago, with an axe between his legs, could easily be made as a sculpture and retain all the same associations (castration, his erection substituted with a weapon, the sexual slang terms “chopper” and “axe wound”, etc.). It’s an object idea rather than an image idea. It even came from a sculpture I made ten years ago, long before I started painting. Perhaps this sculptural way of imagining will prove to be something I can use in my painting more in future.


Robert Gober Untitled (1991) wax, cloth, wood, leather and human hair 31.3 × 26 × 95.3cm


Robert Gober Untitled (1999) plaster, beeswax, human hair, cotton, leather, aluminium pull tabs, and enamel paint 85 x 101.6 x 62.9cm


Robert Gober Untitled (2003-2005) mixed media, size variable


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