I wanted to stay with this dramatic perspective effect in the next exercise. Another of the images which I had loved in Sofala was the picture of an old rusty gate left abandoned in an overgrown field. The sharp perspective was wonderful and the contrast of textures in the old post against the rust of the gate was magnificent!
I went through a long process with this painting. My first study was more or less representational and I continued to use the pen to get the detail. But I am finding that this kind of painting is becoming just a preliminary exploration of the subject from which I begin to develop my own approach.
I then began to ‘push’ the image in other directions – first with a strongly collage response. Many layers of different papers were pasted on the page to break up the surface and the image was built up with thick paint. I kept the palette limited and resisted any strong vibrant colours. I wanted to work in the bleached tones of the Australian landscape to see the effect. I enjoyed doing this painting study but wondered at the end whether it was an obvious response to use remnants etc for an image which was saying, “ the remnants of order in a harsh landscape.”
So I kept ‘pushing’! During the Drawing 1 course I had had an amazing trip to Berlin and was just blown away with the work of the German Expressionists. I went back to some of the images I had seen there – Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel and my favourite, Emil Nolde. These images had opened up a whole new world of colour for me when I saw them in Berlin and I wanted to experiment to see what would happen to my old Sofala gate of it received this kind of treatment. I also wanted to work with more simplified marks. I really enjoyed this experiment and decided to take it further on an A3 format. However before doing that I felt I wanted to keep ‘pushing’ to see where it would lead.
So this is the result. On watercolour paper I painted a very quick image of the gate using strong colour and thick dry paint. I then took a wash over it to see what would happen. I was using pieces of card and my hands to apply the paint. Then I just cut the painting into pieces and put it together again. I am not sure what I think about it but it was great fun doing it and gave me an incredible feeling of freedom.
I felt by this stage that I had reached the end of the ‘pushing’. Looking at all of the images, I felt to learn a lot about the development of an idea. Too often we stay with an original concept or at least I do without realizing the incredible possibilities which lay within that image. The image which I liked the most was the quick study in reds and oranges – it said everything I felt about the image. So I continued to simplify the shapes on an A3 format to produce an expressive Australian image of heat, distance and remoteness.