Artist's Blog

Home > Artist Blog > Robert D Davies > Big painting no.3, Reference material



An aim for the end of my residency having been talked about a couple of months ago, I am now building up my 3rd large painting in a predicted series of 6, to hopefully be reached by September. These recent images here show some of the sketchbook ideas and ‘research’ towards this. As usual, the possibilities seem to present themselves to me like a fungus that is growing exponentially, so I always have to use judgement and intuition carefully.

Not a particularly sophisticated approach here – I jammed my camcorder between the top of my car seat and the head rest and recorded several journeys from the Ellesmere Port area to Edge Hill. I think it is amazing the richness and variety of the land/ countryside that we are taken through as the motorways cut and soar through and over. I was looking for particular quirks of landscape, glimpsed briefly through the bushes and barriers, but it seemed that the machine had a habit of coming to the end of the tape (yes, not very up to date) before I drove past the most interesting bits. Anyway, numerous clips were taken from the film and the end result is a collection of fragments of land that I tried placing together to form new, unusual landscapes, though I’m not sure how relevent all this is at this stage. It might be just a form of reference for specific ‘views’ to be used in new landscapes.

The other image here is some experimentation with gloss and oil paints using photos of a model. The use of gloss is my way of mimicking (so far) the idea of ‘technicolor’ (American spelling?) that was prominent in the western films from around the 1950’s and beyond (I also have stills from more recent films, such as ‘1492’, for instance). To me, a lot of these images have echoes of the strong tonal contrasts of a Caravaggio painting, though sometimes the figures also seem rather hyper-real in the reflections, lighting and colours. I think this is the next phase for me: developing the figures, in all aspects – the actions, scenarios, and how they are painted (not asking much of myself!). Well, the time schedule is falling by the wayside! I think that the current painting will be about a month behind schedule. Oh well.

Big painting no.3, Reference material