Painting Journal


Working on Homage to Pelican Island.

I am returning to this painting after 3 and a half months.

My first inclination was to make some definite line in what was a reasonably formless piece of work.

I find I struggle with wanting to keep the arbitrariness of colour and stains and very loose form with the clarity that a definite line can bring……..

I wonder if I am imposing myself too much upon the painting.

In this case I think I am giving it clarity.

There is always the issue of over working and under working a painting; when is it finished; how much work have you put into it and so on.

So much of my Final MA show work consisted of paintings which have been worked on minimally, allowing the canvas to breathe underneath and allowing what has happened in the first stains of painting stand strong.

Those marks are often the most assured and confident.


With this painting (Homage to Pelican Island) I want to really make the difference between opacity and translucency, to give the paint and the painting more depth, to impose line where I would normally use tone, to be controlled and free, to allow parts of the canvas to breathe and be under worked and others to demonstrate form, opacity and some kind of detail even if that is the lusciousness of the paint.

If I allow these processes to develop in this painting I can keep newer ones fresh and open and not overworked:

Painting for me requires a certain amount of duality within my practise;

Over work/ under work

Translucency / Opacity

Line/ Tone

Night / Day

Above all, more important than form or representation is the process of the paint in its journey on the canvas.

Some canvases pictured here (the two smallest) have gesso on top of rabbit skin as a ground. This is not technically recommended as traditionally on rabbit skin glue one must put an oil based primer.

I felt the immediate need to explore the surface that I am painting onto too as perhaps although painting directly onto rabbit skin glue size as my ground works for me, it is always good to see how a different coloured ground will change the feel and outcome of the work.

My theme in this body of is to continue from where I left off at the end of my MA.

Water and sea are going to become dominant as it is the natural progression from the boat motif, but I will revisit old motifs also as there are still aspect of those I would like to explore more.

Line, mark, tone, stains and opacity are being explored.


It is always a case of putting on and taking off, looking and seeing, making static, wanting to set free definite marks….decisions over the freedom of ambiguity…..