Process of a painting – ‘Entanglement’

A few months into this body of work and I want to share the first painting that I completed in the summer. I have been working in cold wax and oils for a while now but decided to work these in traditional oil paint layers so that I could have parts of the stained board showing through. I also know that working on a few paintings at a time is always the best way for me. It stops me from getting precious about any one piece and builds momentum in the creation of the work. As is often the case, the first painting started is not the first painting to be finished. 


Entanglement - first layer

The first layer – burnt umber on cradled board in thin, fluid layers

With all the accordion book studies, the sketches and photographs and the graphite drawings, I had a clear idea of how I wanted these paintings to feel, both in the creation of them and the finished works themselves. Rich, evocative, mysterious, heavily layered with contrasts between transparent areas and built up brushmarks. But in all of this – I have no idea of how the final painting will look. That can only be discovered as the painting progresses. 


First layers of colour

First layers of colour – gestural brushstrokes to establish the composition

With almost all of the paintings I have started – there is a strong focus on the lower parts of the trees, the way they are rooted into the ground. They feel how I want to feel. Grounded, steadfast, determined. 


Darker layers

Darker, richer layers built over and over – still aiming to keep a feeling of fluidity in the paint

This first painting was a joy to create. I think with a new body of work, there is a feeling of having no expectations in the first few pieces. A willingness to try different things and just see where the brushmarks lead and that was the case with this piece. With this painting as the layers built, the brushstrokes became more fluid, the colours richer and darker than I had anticipated. It has a feel of a dark, tangled, fairytale forest to me and I love it for that. 



‘Entanglement’ – Oil on board, 24 x 36 inches


This painting is available at The Old School Gallery in Alnmouth, Northumberland.

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