Option 4; liminality, ex 4.0 states of unknowing

26th January 2022. I was at a bit of a loss with this to begin with, but I know my own history and it quite often favours horizontals whether these are tide lines up a river bank or the strands of pathway, beach, sea, and horizon, with further strands of sky above. These always speak to me of time and our place in the universe. Cosmology, if you like; gravity and tides, the pull of water and the shifting of landscapes in these places.

I made a start with my digital app, Rebelle5, importing one of my own paintings into it. This, in itself, is liminal, comprising a strand of landscape in the upper part of the painting and drips falling down over an unpainted surface to the bottom. I called it Roots in reference to the importance of these to a landscape of vegetation and habitation.

In Rebelle on an A3 black canvas, scrubbed with a mop eraser to reveal the underlying surface.

I wasn’t keen on this once I had it, and as the process affected the original, it wasn’t easy to fix so I moved on with some more layers. I’ve screen clipped these in isolation to show their structure.

Digital acrylic layer with minimal water and no blending.

This reminded me of some of the more recent images of planets – the swirling storms over Jupiter, or a blurred image of the surface of Mars.

Layers reintegrated and with an acrylic layer to the sky area. Later, I used a blend tool on the brown/cream layers, swimming them into a more stormy turbulence.
This was the final layer (shown integrated) – loose, low opacity pale acrylic to the landscape area with the fluid drift directed upwards.

I like this final version, the geological strata sweeping around loosely almost as if they’re fluid, and the landscape layer now looking almost industrial as the drifting paint made blocks rather than drips. There are chimneys and smoke where there had only been trees before, which feels very much on point in today’s tensions between managing the natural world and housing our people.

My next thought is to do the same with a seascape. I have a tendency to ‘pretty-fy’ anything with sea in it so this will be a challenge.

Own photo.

There are plenty of edges here; sea, sky, horizon, wet pebbles, foam, inhabited land, cliffs. Not so many horizontals though.

First pass in Rebelle. Water on the image itself.
Thin paint lines along the edges, sweeps of sea and sky in watercolour, smudged and dragged.
Foam layer with sky.
Final image with some of the original revealed using an eraser.

Still a bit too pretty but it allows some ideas to ferment.

Round one! I’m painting two at the same time in order to keep the same palette. The first was based on the subterranean model but looked very unsatisfactory alongside the less promising but ultimately more pleasing beach, so I transformed it into a second sea/beach scene. They’re acrylics applied with a flat brush, a round brush, and a pebble on black cartridge prepped with transparent primer.

Beach from the sea. Based on the Roots painting.
Beach. Drawn out of the photograph of a curving beach scene.

I have layered acrylics in a series of patterns to reflect the sky, land, pebbled beach, and the sea. The texture made by the brush marks in the primer provide resistance to scrub against and I use both a gnarly old flannel, stiff with paint, and a pan scrub for this. Serendipity has lent a hand in some of the outcomes, but I’d like to feel that more of it is at least anticipated from past experience rather than just luck.

Beach from the sea.

Using the same palette and techniques, and after a bit of editing with both water and alcohol to loosen paint I wanted to shift, this has come through better than I’d expected but not as well as I’d hoped.

27th January. This was an attempt at making more edges and introducing the notion of doors opening or closing.

Unfortunately, this adds nothing but the realisation that I’m not much impressed by it, hence the attempt to artify it into something more respectable!

After this, I removed the black cartridge, made a wash of white acrylic, applied it, then tried to scrub it back to expose lower layers, but the support was having none of it, so the final images for that version are the ones above.

28th January. I was about to ditch this but changed my mind after considering I might try just blitzing the current textured surface with a something white I found in a small jar (probably primer + varnish) then pulling out the texture by scraping paint across the surface with a palette knife.

Beach harbour.

Using the photo as the model, I scraped a rough on-surface mix onto the white layer, scraping some off as I went, and somehow making boats in the process. There are groups of these on Brighton beach, albeit at more of a tilt than these. The lines here are more like those of a marina but I don’t think these boats would be allowed into that! I like these; there’s rust and roughness about them, and maybe a flag or two. To my eye, this digital image is a little more blue than is the physical one and the blueish white surround confirms that suspicion.

This is about 2-3 hours later than the previous one, and the light has changed, allowing white to be more white.

The light shift not only lifts the white out of the blue, it also allows for more blue/green tones in the central area. It might be my imagination but it seems to me that it also lifts the browns and yellows further into view.

But it was still too blue so I took another run at it, going from better to ruined to better again.

This time I’ve applied paint with a palette knife, going for thick knots and swirls to suggest water moving among pebbles and channels on the beach. Maybe this is high tide.

I’d really better stop now, there’s more paint on here than there is paper!

These two paintings are cut roughly from an A3 sheet of cartridge so are approximately but not precisely A4.

29th January. The amount of immediate and positive reaction on Facebook and Instagram to these two paintings has taken me by surprise; and one, the second and most troublesome of the two, appears to have a buyer. Amazing.

Crop for animation.

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