I must be brief today. Guests arriving tomorrow and so there’s linen to be laundered and dried, beds to be made up, wood for the stove to be got in and animals to be fed.
When we stayed with our friends Sue and Howard in Oxford last week, we re-discovered a little painting of Tretower on their walls that we’d lost track of and subsequently forgotten about. In fact there was quite a lot of work in their house dating from my early days as a painter, and from before that an example of my stage design work with an asymmetric drop-curtain designed for the musical Little Shop of Horrors. (Sue had been on the stage management team at Theatre Clwyd when we first worked together, and I gave her the drawing in thanks for all her hard work on the production.)
Peter photographed everything of mine on the walls of the Oxford house, and no doubt some of the works will gradually emerge on the Artlog. But for the moment, here’s a very small painting of Tretower posted at a fairly low resolution. The painting was made in acrylic ink, intended for use in the cartridges of air-brushes, though excellent I discovered when worked with brushes. Not sure what the title of this is as we forgot to photograph the label on the back.
Interesting to see a technique here that I evolved especially to make the most of the qualities of acrylic ink. It wasn’t at all like working in watercolour. Some of the colours available at the time were transparent, more like stains, whereas others were densely opaque. The medium being very wet, sometimes the colours flooded the paper and needed to be left to dry before any more work could be undertaken. You can see a graininess in the sky that was the result of the slow drying of a medium in which the pigment became visible, swirling in elegant eddies and flourishes as the liquid evaporated. Difficult to control, but magical when skill and practise rendered the process manageable. With the darker colours it was possible to leave them until sticky-dry before scratching through to the under-painting with the handle end of a brush, and the sgraffito at the left side of the composition was achieved by this means.
It took me a couple of years to master acrylic inks, and candidly I never saw anyone else handle them with much success other than by way of the manufacturer’s intended use of the colours in air-brushes. The results I achieved with brushes looked like no other medium I know. Painters were always asking me what I’d used and how I’d made the paintings, but if they afterwards went off and purchased acrylic inks to see whether they could achieve anything similar, I never saw the results. It really was the hardest medium I’ve ever attempted, and after that, oil and acrylic paints seemed easy. There are many transparencies of work I carried out in the medium, and one day when we’ve transferred them to digital, I’ll post images and you’ll see how different these early paintings are to what came later. They were all quite small as the inks were just too difficult to handle on a large scale. The only reason I picked them up to begin with was because I thought the colours appealingly vivid, though the range was very limited. And once I’d acquired the colours, I felt that I had to use them, no matter how challenging they were.
You can see another painting made in acrylic ink HERE.