To begin a new painting you have
to spend time with the canvas before it is primed, before it has been worked
upon before there is even a mark on the blank, vacant, empty space. This is uncorrupted fabric, pure and
reverential and you must respect the journey you are about to take in bringing
something new and powerful into the world.
Unpacking the canvas I rub my
hands over the flat surface searching for any blemishes. I then roll it up into a loose roll and
standing on a chair unfurl it directly against the wall, pinning the top and
corners with drawing pins so it is flat against the wall. I don’t like working on pre-primed or
stretched canvases as I like the solidity of the wall directly against the
canvas as it is easier to work on, stronger and more forgiving.
I choose a 12oz un-primed canvas
as it is malleable and has the strength to fight against and unify with as the
The preparation process involves
smoothing the canvas from the centre to the edges, pinning the edges with
drawing pins until the canvas is flat against the wall without any loose
Smoothing the canvas with both
hands to search out and correct any blemishes commences a close relationship
with the canvas; that connection builds a trust between you and the canvas and
is the start of the formulation of ideas.
Using light grey water based house
paint I then apply thick applications of paint working from the centre of the
canvas in circular motions from the middle to the edges; the paint is quickly
absorbed but the motion from middle to
edge ensures that the canvas naturally stretches itself and ensures that the
canvas does bubble and warp out of control.
As the paint is drawn into the canvas some sections at the edge of the
canvas may stretch and the pins may need to be re applied or additional pins
Once this has been completed I
wait for 20 minutes to check the canvas isn’t warping then leave it for 24
Returning to the canvas the next
day I stand and look at it for sometimes 5 to 20 minutes just searching its
blankness and reflecting on my journey so far.
This is the cathartic commencement of creativity; the reflective highs
and lows of what we have done as a human being; an animal of small victories
and regrets, a small cell of limited but optimistic consequence.
I then sand the canvas down
smoothing it with rapid circular strokes before applying another coat of grey
paint which is much more rapidly applied now the first coat has been absorbed
and has dried.
I chose grey paint because I like
working dark to light and I feel this is the best colour for me to balance my
bright colours against. There is no
golden rule to this but you need to experiment to find out what works best for