"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Monday, 6 April 2009

Leaf of the day: Two Big Leaf Paintings ..almost done

I have to stop work on the two big leaf paintings now. I would like to carry on and can never say when things are really finished. Sometimes you just stop, or run out of steam or ideas or time. I have definitely run out of time.

But one of my blog readers asked me the other day why/how these paintings came about and I realised that in the past posts I had not really said anything about the ideas behind them.
It is probably obvious that I very much admire leaves, the unsung heroes of the plant world, and wanted to make a couple of bigger images of leaves for the show and also to have a break from small watercolours and close work.

When I was sketching out the ideas, Mark Catesby's work was fresh in my mind and in some ways these are a small tribute to him. His simple way of combining elements without too much regard for scale or perspective appealed to me. Also he painted what he found interesting, what he liked and what he had seen together on a particular day or in a particular location. That simple and honest way of working was my jumping off point.

The Aralia leaf image occurred more by accident than design as I had randomly put the leaf on the sheet of paper at that I had sketched on and I had been looking at lizards that day, so the the two seemed to work together. I like paintings that include other paintings or drawings. It's an interesting angle on reality.



The dried Snakewood Tree leaves are just magnificent on their own and in some ways I could have left it solo, but I do like a narrative and so this picture now links a few things that I felt worked together and have a reason for being together. The first snake I saw here was one of the beautiful black racers and it seems fitting to have a snake with a snakewood tree leaf. The favourite soapberries rather abstracted here were on my desk when I was looking for something else to add to the painting. I have been backwards and forwards with this painting.. I tidied it all up got rid of all the brush strokes and it lost its sparkle so spent most of today trying to "rough it up" again
I like this painting. People who don't like snakes won't. People who like something more than a landscape might.



I have always liked paintings or images which combine seemingly unconnected elements or objects. They create a mystery and a tension and a story which can be interpreted in different ways according to the ideas and experiences of the viewer. It would be interesting to ask people how they would interpret these two paintings.



I do wish I had a huge airy studio and had been able to tackle something 6 ft x 4 ft, maybe next time.

Ant Contributes

Ant has been helping. He is the most curious creature. Wherever I am working, he appears. If I am on the computer he is clambering over the keyboard or the screen, if I am painting or drawing at the desk he is running around the paper or the brushes. Today he has been living very dangerously, climbing in and out of my acrylics palette and yesterday he made it to the big oak painting, from which I had to remove him before like a little fly in amber, he was glued forever to the canvas in a layer of varnish, giving "caught on canvas" a more sinister meaning. I guess it's the movement that attracts him. He has never stung me so I don't think it's territorial protection. somehow I don't think ants are capable of affection, but I could be wrong. Hmm .. who knows but it's nice to have my tiny little companion frolicking about. I really should immortalise him in a drawing or painting somehow.



Ant on the oak branch painting.

2 comments:

John said...

As a whole, I see each painting as a triad--leaf, paper, lizard; leaf, soapberry, snake. Each has an animal pointing inquisitively towards the leaf.

Separately, I feel the tension of the Aralia expanding out of view. Then there's the tension of the off-centered, falling out-of-view paper. The little lizard tells me everything is alright.

With the Snakewood Tree, I feel with the leaves something alien and sci-fi like, or morphing into entrails. The soapberries are indistict to me but feel like the base, the grounding so to speak, of this painting. The snake's wonderful curves guide me off the base and into the complexities of the leaves.

In both cases, your color choices in limited palettes provide intense focus.

Maybe too cutesy, but I might like to see flicking tongues, as they check out the objects of their interests.

Hey, it's great to finally meet Ant! I don't think he's previously made it to screen.

Val, here's wishing you the best of luck with tomorrow's opening!

sharp green pencil said...

thankyou John and that is such a carefully thought out comment..