Notes on Painting

Shaun McCracken

 

July 2015

 

I start without a previous image or script in mind – no preplanned composition or structure. Normally beginning in the center of a smoothly polished, porcelain white, gessoed panel, egg tempera paint is applied thinly in hard-edged, geometric blocks, triangles and interlocking shapes. Proceeding outwards from the center and across the surface in repeated rhythms and cycles until the surface has been covered. This is all done intuitively there is no pre drawing or design. Drawn lines define paths through and over the colour blocks, newly created geometries are further developed with colour. A layering of line and colour blocks continues as the egg tempera paint is built up slowly.

 

The composition changes, grows and breathes as semi transparent colours overlap lower layers, building up a visual history of colour and brush strokes. The relations between the different colour, shape and linear elements are developed until a point of cohesion is reached – where the tension between each element is held in balance. This tension between edge and colour interests me. And is the spark that enlivens the painting

 

The colour operates in carefully delineated areas and is purely felt, as a singular element within the whole but also as only a smaller contribution to the whole. Colour is the most obvious reference to the environment around me.

 

The process of painting is meditative, time consuming, labour intensive and a repetitive process. Over time – as the painting proceeds the tension between the drawn lines, edges and colour relationships come into focus – the painting takes on a life of it’s own and dictates what it will become the further it proceeds, each decision becomes a part of the history of the painting. The subject – if there is one, is that history of the painting, referencing itself - it’s own evolution to become a completed whole – now existing on its own as a memorial to it’s creation – this is the life of the painting.

 

Time is seen in the lines traveling across the surface - interweaving, crossing and re-crossing, laying out pathways for the eye to follow. The painted pathways, twisting and turning their direction, outline decisions made, a network, a map or diagrammatic list of colours/places visited and revisited. Paths become obscure, reappearing with renewed vigour, line colours change turning corners, bouncing off one another.

 

These are resolute abstract images that have a basis in geometric shapes, which may be the distillations from observations of natural forms, architecture, negative and positive space, and the urban environment.  The paintings don't directly reference the world outside – rather they become a reflection of it.

 

 

© 2015-2020 by Shaun McCracken

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