This is number eight, the penultimate picture in this series and for me one of the best ones. Finding that the limits of my embedded knowledge were being reached I had resorted to flicking through one of the many reference books here in an attempt to top it up a bit. I find with great books that each different viewing often reveals a new set of surprises. In this case a lovely picture of an old Matchless jumped off the page and at once demanded to serve as inspiration for this picture. As with all these drawings the final picture is never really a true rendition of the reference, they all get pushed and pulled about a fair bit to suit the original vision, but this one’s got a bit more truth behind it than some. One detail in particular stands out, and is one that reveals how an utterly simple approach can be just as effective as a far more complex solution to the same problem. The simple curving shadow line along the fuel tank, to delineate reflection, very clearly says “polished metal” without the need to apply any more shapes, shadows or colour areas. A triumph of less being more, and oh so simple.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective currently running at the Tate Modern Gallery in London. Although a fan of various aspects of Pop Art, I’d never really considered any of his work other than the large comic format pictures repeatedly paraded in front of us like Whaam! So it was very interesting to see a much more varied collection of pictures across a number of periods which followed the development of his unique style and approach. From his early experiments with abstract expressionism, through flat graphic interpretations of objects and on to landscapes inspired by chinese scroll paintings, with a fair bit of work in between, it proved an enlightening journey through the canon of an artist many might dismiss as a one trick pony. The landscapes and seascapes in particular, were both surprising and stunning, his Benday dot screen technique combined with some fantastically bold colours producing images that were both strangely mechanical and oddly dreamy at the same time. If you are anywhere near London and the show is still running I would recommend going to see it. Rumours of ticket non-availability proved wrong, we got some without any problems. It’s on until May 27th.
As mentioned in the previous post things are moving relatively swiftly towards the time when the complete collection of nine of these small “stunt” pictures are done. Not for want of trying has it taken rather a while to get to this stage. As things progress one is challenged by a double edged sword of execution. On the one hand, making more of these images should become quicker as one gets used to the routines and techniques being employed. Conversely, as you become increasingly involved in the process behind each one, you get more and more focused on achieving the levels of finish and detail that you know you’re looking for. Thus one edge gives you time while the other happily takes it away again. Enthusiasm however is not diminished and the end goal of nine is now firmly in sight.
This one above is the latest to be finished. I think it’s based on some kind of BSA though looking at it now it appears more of a “bitsa”, an agglomeration of various parts assembled into something that satisfies the required function. A bit like cafe racers of old perhaps and so true to the spirit of the genre I think.
Finally, at last, eventually here is the finished picture, brought to you after some rather unexpectedly focused procrastination and first order dithering. Admittedly there was a good deal of fiddling about trying to get the right colour for the background block, but that’s no excuse. I knew I wanted a blue of some kind to provide a contrasting coolness to the yellow of the bike and getting the mix and density right was a bit tricky but finally something came together to give me the feel I was searching for. The liquid water colours I use behave in an unpredictable way when you start mixing them and then diluting the resultant blend. In this case you will notice that some of the pigments take to the paper almost instantly, creating areas of dark, or patches of mauve depending on the speed of your brush movements. The results are always a surprise therefore, but this is an aspect of the making process which rewards as much as detracts from one’s satisfaction upon completion.
So that’s six of these done with another three to do. I want nine in total for a little project I’m thinking about. I’ll be posting about that soon. Thanks for watching.