‘Yarden’, from start to finish

Acrylic, gouache and oil-based pencil on board. 59 x 84 cm. 2015

At the beginning of Jeffrey Beam’s poem The Big Bang: River Jordan, there is a note that reads:

The river’s name in Hebrew is ‘Yarden’ Derived from yarad meaning “descend” or “flow down”

The painting, from start to finish.

Above: first sketch.

Above and below: I use the maquette of Jordan to find the compositional shape I need, and begin the guide drawing for the work.

Below: the Mari Lwyd rears above the man.

My copy of George Stubbs’ The Anatomy of the Horse has become dog-eared with use over the years, though the the current Mari Lwyd imagery draws on beautiful old anatomical illustrations of humans.

Above: once the underdrawing is done and the colour laid in, my only tools are a pencil, a sharpener and a brush for cleaning off the pencil dust.

Below: once the Polychromos pencil rendering has been made, the underlying blue darkens considerably.

Below: tea break.

Below: working with the maquette of model, Jordan Morley.

Parrot tulips bloom in the night sky.


Acrylic, gouache and oil-based pencil on board. 59 x 84 cm. 2015

16 thoughts on “‘Yarden’, from start to finish

    • What a splendid thing. I would happily own spiritual kinship with a people who made vivid embroidered masks for their horses! I think I may have to decorate the muzzle that Basil-the-Shetland-pony has to wear to stop him from eating too much rich grass!

  1. We are never never bored Clive! Thanks so much for giving us the treat of seeing the painting evolve. The light and colours are so vibrant, it is incredible how you achieve it. What a show this will be!xxL

    • Liz, you’re a sweetie, and I thank you. I’m rather excited about this exhibition, though I have a ton of work yet to complete. The old disciplines of the stage have kicked in. The show must go on! (-;

  2. this is fantastic!!!! i love the muscle and bone of the horse, the force of the two colors, the depth given by the pencil….and those flowers!!! they carry light, it’s astonishing!

    magic, clive! thank you for sharing with us 🙂

  3. Like Phil, I could spend a lot of time looking at this painting. I can assure you it’s not only Jordan who is lost in a reverie as the Mari of his imaginings becomes real.

    Who would have expected ravishing parrot tulips and a magnificent Mari as Jordan’s protector? Definitely not me!

    All good storytellers know an element of surprise is the key to telling their tale and you have not let us down with ‘Yarden’, Clive. Bravo!

  4. This is wonderful Clive, I admire the technique you have employed, flat swaths of color with beautiful thoughtful renderings as an overlay, very effective. It is also admirable how you have so thoroughly embraced the aesthetic/decorative qualities of floral design, no shrinking violets here.

    And nice tea-pot 3:-)

    • Leonard, thank you for such a thoughtful comment. Peer approval is a welcome sight after long days at the quarry-face, and much appreciated, so many thanks.

      Two down and eight to complete, and all within two months! Yilkes!

  5. Thank you for posting so many photos of the painting Clive; Yarden is full of magic but it’s only by getting up close and feeling my way across the surface of the image that I can really appreciate it, and this post allows me to do just that! I study the details, then go back to the whole, and back and forth, each time getting to know the painting better. I’m mesmerised by it!

    • Phil, I think in the post I’ve mirrored my slow progress over the surface of the painting. I liken myself to a snail with a brush and pencil! Ha ha! My spectacles have been permanently steamed from the effort of all that rendering, and my back is aching from all the bending. (I’m making these works on a table rather than on an easel.)

      Two down and eight to finish. (Though all the drawing is done!)

      Thank you for your enthusiasm for this. I have all the anxiety that freights a new body of work coming from unexpected directions.

  6. WOW ! I have been coming morning and evening, and thought maybe your absence of these few days meant you had taken a well deserved vacation.

    Suddenly this wealth of images leaves me really impressed. You have been immersed in work, and work, and work… And your showing how you have done it, step by step, does not take even a bit of magic out of the end image.

    It is beautiful, and more beautiful because we can see it being born!!
    Thank You

    • Maria, I’ve been here all along. No holidays for me until all this work has been completed and the exhibition is up and open. Roll on June 11th!

      I’m pleased you like it. I fret about whether I’m boring people with the minutiae of how the painting comes into being, or whether I’m stripping away the magic with too much information. (There is no magic, just vision and labour.) So it’s lovely to read that you’ve enjoyed this illustration-heavy post examining the stages of work on Yarden. Thank you for your kind words.

      • This I copied from Andrew O’ Hehir’s review of “The Trigger Warning”. (The latest book by Neil Gaiman.) I think it could be speaking of you showing us the birth of your painting

        “He’s like a conjurer who shows us how the magic trick is worked, joins us in laughing at its transparency and simplicity, and makes us believe in it anyway”

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