Usually, the way my work happens is this: I sketch, at first just tiny doodles in my working pad -until something occurs on the page which switches on a light in the old brain box. More detailed sketches follow, where I try and isolate elements which I think will work, or new ideas emerge from the sketching process. It gets to a point where I can't wait any longer, and I start to work on canvas.
Of course, this is where the real task begins as the paint never obeys the brush or behaves the way you think it will. So I build up layers, like a story...sometimes as many as ten. I go back, scratching some areas away. Gradually, something emerges and the light in the brain box flickers tentatively again. The painting is probably not finished. I may go back to it months later. It may be completely different to the original sketches, but that's what makes it so fascinating. And all the while, I am trying to tell a story, one that I hope lies on the painting's surface like those we can read on the landscape. I am trying to at least spark a train of reflection in the viewer.
This was pretty much the process with "DeWinton". The name comes from a manufacturer of quarry locomotives (and much more) in Caernarfon. Petra and I had found one of their long abandoned locomotives at Penmaenmawr Quarry...it was a fascinating find, evocative, forlorn yet suggestive of a great deal of history. My post about it is here.
I kept doing little thumbnail sketches of it, but shied away from the idea of doing something too literal. Then one day, a painting emerged.
It was not quite right, but there was something, I thought. Still a bit literal. This is just a little over A4, on card. I kept this for future reference.
I did another small sketch, above. Then a canvas emerged. I thought this was more like it. The locomotive is simplified and the landscape has taken over the duties of composition:
Finally, I arrived at this, above. I am much happier with it and it is less ephemeral than the previous iteration, although that is still there, underneath! You can see a few points of reference if you look closely.
I'll leave it for a couple of weeks and see what I think about it then.