This is the second painting I submitted for the Summer show at the RA, the first being the portrait of of my uncle Peter.
A completely different kind of painting altogether, I wanted to explore pure colour, to find the clearest, strongest ways to show its true nature and behaviour in watercolour medium. Only three colours are used, cyan, magenta and yellow, employing juxtaposition, overlay and tone as well as wet and dry paper and re-wetting techniques. Each colour is laid on individually, not mixed.
As a jeweller my work is very much about control, my designs are geometric and ordered, serendipity is a rare and welcome component, usually appearing whilst pushing the limits of the material. This process follows through in the “Dots” series of paintings. I begin from a precise positioned grid of marks, working on wet and/or dry paper, overlaying in several passes following a strict order whilst allowing accidental or material based irregularities to occur. Colours are applied with droppers or with broad washes laid over dried dots, allowing the colours to soften and run at will.
This following painting uses another technique, I laid down intense drops of colour on dry paper and allowed them to dry out completely before brushing over them with clear water and a large brush, spreading the colour and making the colours run.
I keep looking back at this photo from October in Canada, I think/hope that there is a message there somewhere, written in the leaf-stains and screw-heads. It is simply the deck of a motorboat become stained with autumn leaves, caught in the late afternoon light, just a small spot of pink reflected in the hinge-plate.
A recent visit to the marina in Swansea offered up such delights, boat hulls, railings, brickwork, an endless rippling reflection of intense colours. The whole area has been transformed from the working harbour docks when it was no doubt dark and noisy and any colour suffused by coal dust. There are numerous shiny modern yachts moored here now but also just a few memories of its previous incarnation, the massive stone docks, gates and lift bridges.
The pier is boarded out with generously wide pine boards, nailed with large steel brads. Over the years the softer wood has worn away leaving a rich pattern of exaggerated grain and shiny, raised nail heads. At night the boards gleam as though polished by the thousands of footfalls passing over for many decades.
The pier is always busy but on this evening, despite the unnaturally chilly wind, there was to be a free outdoor film screening of 500 Days of Summer on a large inflatable screen. Hundreds of keen film-goers were arriving laden with blankets, folding chairs and snacks. The air was thick with the scents of hot food being prepared at various temporary stalls, no cheap burgers and hot dogs but artisan foods from an array of world cuisines. Wandering further along the pier I was surprised to see a trapeze school taking place, only $60 per hour, I was tempted for perhaps 30 seconds before remembering that at my age it was probably not the best use of my time or money. A student was flying, twisting, spinning and finally diving toward the net where she performed a perfect balletic pose, triumphantly bowing in response to her round of applause. All this was taking place in a half darkness, the pier lit only by feeble white lights somehow lending a timelessness to the scene. There was none of the glitzy brashness of modern America that I was expecting and I was not at all disappointed.