paint workbook

When I began painting I filled not only sketch-books, but also work-books with experiments in paint and mixed media. Today’s images are all from a single, small work-book. Some of the compositional images are partial collages. I was playing with ideas, trying to understand just what was possible. All the images shown were made in acrylic inks, some with added oil pastel. Acrylic inks were the first paints I ever really got to grips with. Originally formulated for use with airbrushes, I used them only with brushes.  Initially I found them difficult to master and frustratingly unforgiving. However once I’d got used to the inks and learned how to handle them fast (they dried very quickly) they were really interesting to paint with.

Here are so many of the subjects that I was interested in at the time. (And indeed still am.) Rather abstract landscapes, blustery weather conditions, turbulent skies, fence-posts/telegraph-poles, boulders, outcrops, thrashing branches, pollarded trees… it’s all here, in miniature. Even Tretower (third and fourth images below) stripped by me of its curtain-wall to simplify the shape.

(Many years later, the image above reappeared in this illustration for Richard Barnfield’s Sonnets, Old Stile Press.)

The work-book demonstrates textures and mark-making: transparency, layering, graininess, scratchy versus silken brushes, compositional disjunctions, the drawn-line overlaying paint. All the contents of the toy-box are present.

I don’t make up paint ‘work-books’ these days. All the paint-work goes on at the easel. This particular work-book dates from when I wanted to keep notes and reminders of how materials behaved. The lessons were absorbed and later became a part of my daily practice. But the book is an interesting little record of how my eye was working back at the start of the journey, and I have an affection for its contents.