I usually have a broad idea of where I am going with a painting when I start. Sometimes it's in a sketch, or I want to develop a motif from a previous work. Often, painting something sparks off new ideas and images.
This is what happened with "Croes y Ddwy Afon". I'd had the idea of the quarry isolated by the river, mysterious and hemmed in by the mountains, in the bacxk of my mind. The real quarry, somewhere I've known for many years, is a jumbled scene of geological chaos. It's been untopped, and the signs of what went on before are difficult (although not impossible) to read.
I started blocking out the main shapes, thinking that the quarry would emerge from the mountain in the mid-left of the painting. In the foreground, I felt that the two shapes could be symbolic of drumhouses...or perhaps the bowstones of my youth, when I became obsessed with two old menhirs on the skyline seen from my parent's farm. That felt right, anyway.
It' seemed all a bit shallow ...so I left it for the night and came back the next day. The river became a flooded pit. I scraped back some areas and added others.
Now, a lot of work had gone on. I changed the colour of the hills. I made the central area a creamy naples yellow and added some rock cannon motifs. I also added the sawblades that I feel compelled to place in my paintings. The boiler and a pressure vessel held the attention too much, I suspected. I already felt that the chimney should be reduced and changed. But I liked the dark feeling of the weigh house. That was going to stay.
More shuffling about of paint. Some scraping back. Then I decided that the horizon was too literal and I used a familiar ruse of mine, the window in the sky. A great weight seems to be bearing down on the hill, and I like that. The DeWinton boiler is almost gone. The Bowstones have appeared on top of the hill...doubling as an incline winder house.
The final image is above. There were some things that needed to be amended...I'd made a Cadmium red mark above the pit which, on reflection, looked like a perfect signwriter's seven. Oops! Other things needed taking back, or deepening. But it's finished now!
I have the urge to simplify things more, to reduce all the areas, or to take just one area and work it up into an abstract. The trouble is that I am very fond of the story, of showing the palimpsest. We'll see where that goes!