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Painting Float on

15 Jun 2006 / in about art, natural world

I may have been suffering from a bad back these last two weeks, but time is precious and I cannot waste it. So I have been occupying my time with resting, taking short walks, reading and, of course, painting.

I recently accepted a commission for a series of pictures for the cardiac unit of a hospital. The brief was to make thoughtful pictures to offer comfort, distraction, joy and hope to patients and their families at a time when they may be in emotional or physical pain, feeling vulnerable, helpless, sad or even bereaved.

This painting, entitled Float on is part of that series:

The idea for it came as a result of a fishing trip with my son which I blogged about here.

The composition is quite heavily influenced by the 19th century Japanese ukiyo-e artists Hokusai and Hiroshige. These Japanese artists had a way of flattening colours, finding design in landscape and celebrating the natural world which I love. Their influence on my great teacher, Vincent van Gogh, is well documented. Vincent picked up on one element of Japanese printmaking that I particularly enjoy; that is, the way they flatten space and break the ‘traditional’ rules of spatial perspective by raising the vanishing point. Now I may be getting a bit technical, but this is an important feature of my composition Float on.

Here’s a very brief photographic record of the making of Float on. After having drawn out the composition, which I had been working on in my mind for a few days, I washed in the sky and began to put in other elements which I couldn’t wait to put in! That meandering river… mmmm! Those gorgeous wild yellow irises… ooh!

Anxious to get the yellows in, I completed the waterlilies and some of the irises’ foliage. Then I tackled that beautiful carp, which I wanted to look quite Japanesey. I based it on the carp that Rupert lifted out (and returned to) to the lake last week.

At this stage it almost becomes a ‘paint by numbers’ exercise, except that I make up the numbers and adjust the colours as I go. It’s important to try to work on different elements as I go along to retain a sense of balance and harmony throughout the whole painting.


And there you have it. Float on.

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.