Monday, August 01, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 212

A painting completed in just 24 hours today. I call it Major Clanger's Last Stand.

The genesis of the idea lies in two places; firstly this notebook sketch from March (below) and secondly in a blog post I wrote back in 2008 (here) in which I pondered upon the infinite probabilities offered by an infinite universe and the fact that if real aliens did look like Clangers it would freak us out more than bug-eyed reptiloids ever would. I mean, just imagine it.

I resurrected the idea on Twitter and a discussion about The Clangers TV show. It prompted the question ... why was the oldest male known as 'Major' Clanger? What was he the Major of? Was there once a Clanger army? If so, what happened to it? And who were they formed to fight or defend against? A picture began to form in my head. All I needed was a canvas. But I didn't have one. Or did I ...?

I decided to cannibalise my one failed painting to date - the Mixed Marriage one. Remember this? Lord how I hated it. Nothing went right from start to finish.

No matter what I did to it, I just couldn't get the bugger to work. Even when I got the aliens 'right', there was so much paint on the Dad's suit, it stood out against the otherwise flat canvas. And the humans were awful. The groom was ghastly, his sister's head was too big, the kids were appallingly drawn, the whole painting leaned to the left ... you get the idea. So, yesterday evening, I attacked it with a large brush and some white emulsion. Curiously satisfying. I may return to the Mixed Marriage concept at a later date. But for now - bye bye.

So, with a blank if lumpy canvas, I pencilled in my Major Clanger and some cratera and mushroom clouds and began to paint. From the start, it felt like a very different painting to those I'd done before.

I'd decided to limit my palette on this one; only six colours were used - White, black, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, burnt sienna and ultramarine.

I was also approaching it in a more painterly fashion than usual with most of it painted with a half-inch flat-ended brush. I normally use tiny brushes. By nature, I'm an illustrator and my usual media are pens, inks and watercolours. Painting in oils and acrylics is quite different - something I've learned over the past 18 months of teaching myself. It's looser and more fluid. It's about distance; paintings aren't designed to be looked at up-close whereas book and magazine illustrations are. Consequently, you use larger brush strokes. It's very liberating. It's also much quicker. In no time at all, I had a painting.

I may still tweak it some more. I can't help feel that there needs to be a third spaceship over in the right hand part of the sky to balance the composition. The horizon needs raising too. And I might do some work on the gun, and ... Who was it said that 'a painting is never finished; it simply stops at interesting places'?* Or, what's the other one? 'Art is never finished, only abandoned'.**

Never were truer words spoken.

* Paul Gardener ** Leonardo da Vinci

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