Highlights July 2021

Written by: Stephen Bishop | Posted on: | Category:

I would love to share my new Highlights feature with you.  In which, I will highlight one painting per month starting in July 2021.  I will give the background story and insights about an individual painting. This is a chance to go into a bit more depth and give you a glimpse behind the scenes. As well as the process that made it and what the painting means to me. There is also a first dibs promotion for my subscribers to read the new featured Highlight pre-general release each month and have access to special subscriber offers. So do subscribe to my mailing list if you have not already done so.

The painting I have chosen for my Highlights feature this month is called Lark Ascending (above Dancing Ledge).

The Lark Ascending (above Dancing Ledge)
 Size: 101 x 101 x 3 cm
 Medium: oil on canvas
 Painted Circa: 2018 IMG_3130.jpg In 2018, I made some photography and painting excursions to a favourite area above Dancing Ledge in Purbeck. I usually take the path from Langton Matravers past Spyway Farm.

There had been several weeks of sunny weather by this date. I got somewhat sun burnt on my arms from painting in one position! The soil and foliage were extremely dry, the ground exuded heat.  The painting initially took a view looking South across the meadow and out to sea. Later on I decided to shift the view looking eastwards towards Durlston to include a Purbeck dry stonewall and gateway. 

The canvas was prepared with a yellow gesso primer. I used fiery colours to convey a sense of parched earth and the air which was furnace like.  I took a very low viewpoint on this composition, pushing up the horizon and flowers towards the top of the picture. I have long equated the horizon as a liminal line between the physical and spiritual.  I often attempt to explore what this concept means to me.  It is a subject that is constantly evolving. I used the lower main body of the image to describe movement from a somewhat chaotic earthly state towards a more sublime heavenly state.

The work was started in acrylics.  Working with the canvas tilted at an angle on the ground, I started with quick mark making, squeezing paint directly from the tubes, applying with palette knife, bamboo stick and brush, as well as squirting with water to make the pigments blend and run. The advantage of acrylic being that it dries quickly. I often mix my paint directly on the canvas without a separate palette.  These pure colour dabs are the building blocks.  I like the mixing process to be part of the finished painting.
I use memory and reflect on the seasons past, present and future. The words of T.S. Eliot are profoundly inspirational for me.

There is a path to a typical Purbeck stonewall and gateway at the top of the picture. I like to think of the colours as indications or trails left by flowers, insects, pollen and perhaps even spirits escaping the earthly morass and flying heavenwards.  I seek personal and communal transcendence in my work.  The painting was completed over several weeks in the studio (often with Lark Ascending music on repeat). The cycle of life is suggested in the flecks and dabs of impasto paint.

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