Friday, July 25, 2008

My painting XXXII

As at 25.7.08

Time for a new brush, a ritual moment which, like the advent of the new ball in a test match innings, gives hope of fresh attack. The current brush will now be pensioned off for less exacting tasks in a process of demolition that leaves it in the end stiff and splayed; and ultimately binned. It has lasted two months but now shows signs, when shaken, of only reluctantly forming a point.

There are not too many jobs a valetudinarian fine brush can do, whereas a worn bristle brush can serve out its time at the scrubbing stages as here in the underpainting (now all done). These are the brushes seen sticking out of jars and pots in every photograph of an artist's studio.

One such is at the moment resting in white spirit for another ritual, the regular Saturday application of this week's Terminal Grey to one of the plank-like canvases that I have covered serially for forty years with the mixed palette scrapings of the week. Each of these mixtures in isolation looks like a murky grey with a bias towards warm or cool according to what colours I have most used; or paradoxically, put out but not used. However dull the blend of these colours seems it gains life by association with the other greys on which it rests or under which it lies.

Terminal Grey in progress, 2008.

Quantum Poetics (to remind myself of my picture's title) is now virtually the sole source for these salvaged pigments. Until recently it has acted in consort with various portraits on the go (notably those of Jeremy Isaacs and most recently of John Boyd that for me marks the pleasant end of my career as a painter of official portraits).

Sir John Boyd, 2008, Oil on canvas.

Part of the genesis of the Terminal Grey paintings was the desire to enjoy paint in and for itself - the pleasure of matière. Since the paint is often drying it does not go on smoothly and the final accumulation of twenty one layers of colour at the bottom of each can often be crustily rutted and richly pustular (a kind of muted homage to my mentor, Frank Auerbach).

Most of these canvases belong to Massimo Valsecchi in Milan though the Arts Council owns the first group. One, mysteriously, has found its way to the Fine Arts Museum of Budapest.

Terminal Greys, oil on canvas, 122 x 20.5 cm each, 1971-92

Whatever aesthetic virtues these paintings may or may not possess they must surely merit, as green exemplifiers of prescient recycling, some Gordon Brownie points for prudent economic management.


Marco said...

Love the new website...enjoying the blog, thanks

troylloyd said...

i concur.

thank you Tom for taking the time & showing us glimpses into your working life as well as your writings.

it is all too rare to witness such intimacy with a major artist -- and yes, you are a major artist. you've made a vast impact all across the boards -- transcending genre, which i hold to be yr genius.

the progressive updates of the paintings-in-progress is a treat & v. interesting indeed

be well!