This is a stubborn beast of a canvas. I was sure it would be finished for my show in June “Go, Go Pitch-Black Night”. But no, just before the finish line, it took a sharp left into a dark forest where it has been sitting, defiant and undecided. I couldn’t hear it, and I had no idea how to speak to it either.
I painted over the whole thing in gunmetal grey and left the studio in a right huff. The next morning I returned to look at it, and I was lifted by the tiny blue swooshing area I had kept in the top right-hand corner. The grey seemed harsh, but it highlighted the years of brushstrokes underneath.
There is something mental about completely painting over an entire canvas you have been working on for two years, but I couldn’t help myself. A while ago I was in the National Concert Hall in Dublin listening to a composer talk about the process of composing. She said, “you have to kill your darlings”. It resonated with me, and I have often thought about it since.
Here you can see what it looked like before I painted over it - it was the canvas on the right with the large yellow area
I tried some thin lines with a ruler that didn’t work out. Then I began enjoying myself again with those dark and light blue blocky shapes. The black changed the tone completely. I was really happy with the lightness and strength of the linear structure on the left, and the swish blue wash at the bottom seemed to connect with the untouched blue in the top right-hand corner. Somehow between them, they bound the painting together. The red in the bottom right corner gives the work a tiny bit of heat.
I brought the painting to Berlin with me. I hung it up in the flat before I even got a studio and after weeks of sitting with it, I can see that it has settled. Or I should probably say it is me who has settled. I needed the time to catch up with a new freshness.