Scaling up and expanding

Sometimes working on multiple small paintings at once leads to results that require a little expansion - to further explore something to see how it might work if the areas and proportions changed.

I've always enjoyed large scale paintings, my work generally lends itself to a more ambitious scale rather than being confined into smaller dimensions, but smaller works do help to create a volume of ideas and exploration.

This is how a few of my recent big canvases started out. I scaled this smaller piece up to a really big painting as I could see the capacity it had that would lend itself to a bigger expanse.

The detail of the ‘balance’ (the linking of elements), the semi-opaque white as a leading element to this piece, are favourite points for me.

I had to scale the piece from rectangular portrait dimensions to square and devise how the colours would work on a white primed canvas when the background wasn’t a neutral base of ply.

With painting onto the white primer there’s a need to cover the whole surface, unlike with the ply, which means all of the painted shapes become more as one, rather than benefiting from the natural way the ply becomes visually, and tangibly another plane.

With the ply it’s more obvious that the surface is separate and the paint sits on top of it. With a canvas this is less so the case. And then there’s an element of illusion in the two dimensional effect as well where just by adding a painted colour, it changes the planes.


Yellow and white abstract.

This painting is another large scale translation onto square canvas from one of the smaller studies on ply that I did.

The asymmetric composition and diagonal lines with linked elements are where I feel the flow with this, as well as the introduction on this larger piece of the red triangle 🔺 contrasting with the subtle green and white, yet linking across to the fluorescent yellow.

As with the other large painting that evolved this way, there were changed and adaptations I made to transfer to a white background (primes canvas) and the larger, square format.

Now having lived with it for some while, and having progressed other pieces I’m eager to add something, another element, that was never a part of the plan when I started.

So you could say that this piece has taken almost 2 years to do!

Painting on plywood

A lot of my recent abstract paintings are on plywood. There's something architectural about them, it feels as though I can expand outwards from the surface. I feel as though that surface can layer with others. The ply gives me a really solid and resistant base whereas canvas gives and feels more fragile.

This has become something of a trend for me. Traditionally I've always used canvas - high-grade artists canvas on bespoke frames. But not as of the last few years.

Modern acrylic paints have a range of abilities and very satisfyingly they suit ply, and ply works well with my hard-edged geometric lines. The paint goes on super smoothly and the edges are much cleaner. I've been working with the ripples in the wood to help determine which areas of the surface I want to 'save' and which I want to obscure. This sometimes dictates the composition which gives me restrictions I have to work within - external controls if you like - of which I help to make and guide the decision.

Here are a few medium-sized pieces from 2015. There is some structure, there are divisions, there are omissions to the surface.