This is the largest painting I’ve completed to date. I made several failed attempts in the past, which I abandoned, partly because I didn’t have an easel or wall large enough to support them, so they were very awkward to work on. The studio easel makes a huge difference.
Like most of my recent paintings, I’m struck by how illustrational the style is, and how rigid the composition. I’m not sure why that’s happening, and I’m looking forward to breaking it up in future, but for now I’m learning a lot from making these. Working on a different scale is completely different: gesture, brushwork, composition, drawing, even paint mixing – everything works differently on this scale. It’s exciting to be on such a steep learning curve.
It’s easy to forget scale when viewing reproductions in books or on a computer screen. The paintings become disembodied images, which I enjoy, but sometimes it’s interesting to think about the relative scale that gets lost in that translation. Here are some of my recent paintings represented to scale.
The three largest of that selection all felt very big when I was working on them, probably because I’m used to making smaller paintings, and I’m working in a small space. 170227 Pinocchio in Love felt like a monster when I was making it – like painting a stage set or billboard sign or mural. However, in a larger room or gallery it wouldn’t seem that way at all. Out of interest, I made this scale comparison with paintings by other artists (below). I didn’t choose these examples because they’re particularly large (Guston, Schutz, and Condo have all made much larger paintings), but because these are currently four of my favourite images off the top of my head.
What strikes me is not only that they’re much larger than my largest painting, but that the physical process of making them must have been so different to what I imagined when I was looking at them in books. For example, the blocky straight brush strokes in Twin Parts and the drawn lines in Double Heads on Red are made with big sweeping gestures that use the whole arm and body, and the free-hand drawing in all these paintings must have been done within arm’s reach of the canvas – therefore much too close to see the whole composition as they were painting it (lots of standing back, I guess).
Working at this scale produces a different kind of image, and that seems to be a kind of image I like.