Sunday, 13 October 2013


The monochrome exercise has been interesting for me I suppose because it incorporates texture to a very large extent, texture other than paint texture, i.e. in small objects and things that do not appear in conventional representational work.  This departure, though only a small step, is a major consideration in my intentions to move away from the frankly pedestrian.  I realize that in light of the transfigurative change of the 60s and 70s this is a minor adaptation on my part, but nonetheless a significant one.

Inevitably Klein Blue has had an influence, because in historical terms the Lapis Lazuli of the Madonna's robes, and the Wilton Diptych, 1395,  in early history painting was a significant, although the Egyptians did know of it, although they did know how to produce blues from copper silicates, or blue vitriol. It is the West's favourite colour far outweighing any other colour, most probably because of its neutrality.

I could not therefore resist a blue monochrome:

It is a mixture of Royal Blue and Ultramarine to get a bit nearer to the vivid blue I wanted to achieve. I have used pipe lagging, sacking, tissue paper and cartridge paper to achieve effects.  Being blue it reminded me of the sea and my early years sailing with my father and sister, the objects relate to marine images.

My next attempt was more geometrical suggesting industrial rather than organic images.  It is achrome, that is to say white, although it doesn't look it here because I have had to increase the contrast to see the texture. I used spray paint to achieve an overall whiteness without any hint of modulation.  Inaterestingly Martin Barré used spray paint in his work but possibly for different reasons as his was a time of non-authorial working and the fact that the spray produced marks without contacting with the canvas it achieved that requirement. For me it is more pragmatic.

I found that I wasn't very good at low relief as the card seemed to buckle.  I guess a stronger card it probably called for.
My third monochrome is based on my lifelong interest in gems and geology.  I have always loved the effects one sees in Malachite, so I couldn't do a green monochrome without having a stab at replicating those wonderful swirls.  I don't think it works because I wasn't working from a particular stone, but then again it wasn't about that it was about monochrome.  It is not overall tone, which I find rather uninteresting but with tonal inflections to suggest the depth and interest of the Malachite. I used low relief here but it didn't work terribly well hence the idea to obscure it  a bit with the mixed tonal qualities, a reminder of those wonderful columns in St Basil's Cathedral in St Petersburg.



References: Blue, The History of Color, Michael Pastoureau, Princeton University Press, 2001

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