The Colour & Dimension Paintings 1990 - 1993

(dimensional irregular shaped acrylic canvases) 

Click on the painting to visit the Gallery. Note that these paintings vary significantly in size and are enlarged, where possible, to show more detail  - the actual sizes are listed with each work.

In 1989, I tried gathering up the unpainted canvas edges and letting the shape of the canvas become more irregular. I began to conceive of the possibilities for increasing the active relationship between the internal painting and the outside shape.

What if I simply followed the drawing and colour movement of the paint out to what shape the painting could be? Or how might I interrupt this internal flow to create compositional tension? I developed the painting from the inside — out to the edges — either by forming the paint in a mould, during the painting process as I had done with the ‘Rocaille’ paper works or by cutting out the composition from sections of more continuously painted flat canvas sections. By these methods I attempted to free the external shape to follow and interpret the internal movements of the painting.

It is as if I am painting from the inside out — both physically and psychologically — by letting these composed formations work on my subconscious; to ‘out’ themselves. The choices of possible compositions in the painted lengths only become known to me after the pouring process and the weeks of drying. In the months following, the canvases are hung on the wall for further working and compositional selection. This open-ended way of working on a painting slowly, over time, enriched my practice and allowed a measure of freedom to develop and compose future work.

The transition from flat rectangular slab surfaces to the undulated and irregularly shaped canvases began with the ‘Rocaille’ paper works. By 1989 I had completed a group of works by rolling and tucking under the edges of the canvas. Generally, this made the shaped edges more organic and consequently the outer shapes began to take on a more distinctive personality and physical presence. This also brought about stronger references to figurative and symbolic associations which are reflected in the more narrative titling of some works from this time and my titles in general. 'Solstice' is an early work which looks like a gold mask of a sun god and was painted around the time of the summer solstice.

From the undulation in the ‘Rocaille’ paper works and canvases hanging on the wall came the idea of adding raised support under the inner body of the painted surface, thereby interpolating the painted formations by an added dimension. It became possible to reinterpret the colour and drawing relationships by subtle shifts in the surface. The objective was and remains not to make a sculptural relief or object (as some have mistakenly remarked) but to reinforce the drawing, colour, and imagery of the two dimensional surface. Edouard Manet, in his paintings, did this by adding more surface thickness ‘impasto’ to advance his black areas in order to stop them looking like holes in the canvas.

The objective of introducing this ‘dimensional impasto’ was and is to reinforce the pictorial space by adding dimension and colour emphasis where needed, without producing shadows which are a part of relief sculpture.

I make these compositional decisions by mocking up the canvas on the wall and cutting and stapling foam fillings in place until the desired effect is achieved. My objective is, as it has always been, to make the outer edges and final shape of the work interchange and unify with the inside pictorial strength of the painting itself. Once the mocked up resolution of the work has been achieved it is laminated to a backing canvas to hold everything in place.

Increasingly, the dimensional works became more figurative, suggesting animal and fish morphic forms. By 1992, I was pouring several troughs of various sizes and allowing them to join with each other later in the drying process creating head and tail effects. This metaphorical figuration became the focus of development from 1991 to some time in 1994 when the focus gradually changed towards more simplified shapes. I think it was a combination of the marbleling and paint runs and the introduction of reflective glitter to my palette that made me more interested in the internal movements of the painting, for which a change to a less complex circular formation seemed to work best.

Media, Method, Hanging & Handling

All works are acrylic on canvas made with the finest of quality of artist permanent colours and mediums. Following painting, the painted canvas is cut and shaped and undulated on the wall until resolved. It is then mounted on a heavy canvas backing with filling behind to maintain the raised areas as before, normally between 1” to 5”. The painting is then stretched on a plywood stretcher and coated with several applications of a Ultra Violet Light Stabilizing varnish to further protect and enhance the permanency of the color and paint surface.

Works are specific in their hanging orientation and must be hung from the hangers provided (not from wire) flush to the wall. Specific hanging instructions are marked on back of each work. The paintings are necessarily unframed and although very durable, care should be taken when standing the work on the edge to provide soft padding to avoid scuffing. Dust with a feather duster.

All works are signed and dated on the reverse.