‘The Firebird’ watercolour, ink and pencil on monoprint
This particular painting has taken us on quite a journey. We had planned to begin a diptych of Adam and Eve, but the woman staring back at us simply suggested something else. We went with it and reserve our initial intentions for another day…
Here are a few stages in her development. She was drawn on a full sized piece of St Cuthberts Mill Bockingford paper that had been monoprinted with ink and watercolour. Lorna referenced Rossetti in her initial drawing; the classic freshness of her face and gripping gaze was a good place to start. We had also been researching traditional Adam and Eve imagery and Stephen began to work into the hair using Dürer as a marker. The combined elements and strong colour took us on an exciting tangent and after several sessions in the studio, our Firebird gradually emerge instead.
For us it’s important to maintain an open approach to our work and the resulting subject matter, it’s essential in fact. We work with what the image dictates and respond to each other’s marks. We sometimes have a firm idea, but have learned that that can often change; each painting has its own story to tell and we embrace the journey they take us on. One of the many wonderful things about working collaboratively is that the development unfolds with at a pace that is challenging and reactive to each other’s marks. We can be both subjective and objective at the same time. Each piece is deeply cognitive, full of discussion and debate with complete equality in direction.
This piece was completed with a little fumage… see last blog post for our small demonstration. Very worth a try if you are open to a surprising result and have a fire extinguisher to hand!
We felt that a little fumage was required to complete this image. We will take a better photograph in the morning, but we are excited about the result.
We have been totally enthralled by painting this image and were up with the lark this morning to finish it off. Again Rubens provided some inspiration, but only when a strong arm became apparent after looking closely at what the initial watercolour and ink marks suggested. Stephen began to draw some extraordinary lines around what was fast becoming an elbow. They seemed to suggest wings to us, (Mercury perhaps, though ideally they would appear on his ankles) and then we realised that we were staring straight at Icarus. He was the son of Daedalus, the creator of the labyrinth and died not heeding his father’s advise and flew too near to the sun.
Stephen and I both worked alternately on the wings, encouraging them to look tattered, burned and melted. We used a variety of ink pens to vary the marks and encouraged them down the right hand side of the figure.
Some details below of Icarus’ marks and textures and the Rubens drawing that helped to lead us there.
Our latest piece is a small study inspired by Rubens. We love to explore the possibilities that a good anatomical sketch presents, seeking new forms and interpretations as always.
Here is the original Rubens sketch, our interpretation drawn over some highly textured marks and finally the finished piece, rotated and redefined.
We return to our deeply inspirational trip to Japan now for our latest series of work. Using material Lorna gathered from an evening in Gion corner in Kyoto, two new paintings are emerging simultaneously.
Again, the first step has been to apply bold washes of watercolour. Strong colour and plenty of textured, gestural marks offers emerging forms and exciting opportunities. Into these we begin to work in turn, finding the balance between strong drawing, abstract forms and the excitement of the automatic line. Within that we strive to find an image that can be read two ways; resolution comes with a twist most often and that is what really excites us.
These are a few details of the two paintings in progress and we will publish the completed works very soon…
This piece began with a study of the Three Graces; the interplay of arms drew us to the image. Once the initial phase was completed, Stephen explored the intriguing abstract quality of the third figure on the right hand side. At this point, we started to consider its strengths from different angles.
The power of the two arms reaching from top to bottom were important for us to preserve. They have weight and serve to emphasise a sense of motion. We enjoy the ambiguity too, as the hands read in a variety of ways.
We continued to work into the marks, finding contrast with fine lines and dark swathes of ink. Stephen worked into the remaining female figures’s hair with a fantastic cascade of texture, echoing the gravity of the upright composition.
It became evident that a male form was emerging at the top of the painting and it was at that point, that we realised the emerging image was of Perseus and Andromeda. The refining of his head brought balance to Andromeda and encourages the viewer to trace the action from top to bottom.
This is the completed work
This painting evolved from an initial drawing inspired by Rubens. We passed it back and forth several times, flooding it with French Ultramarine watercolour, working into forms with ink and pencil and swivelling the paper, scrutinising and reinterpreting the image.
Here is the original Rubens.
There is no one way of collaboration for us except one way which is together. If one of us starts first, the other may start undoing and vice -versa before rebuilding or leaving in a different way. There is no rule about who starts first, in the case of ‘Bridge’ we started together before S moved forward and L entered afterwards, via another door and we both left together again. Sometimes it’s the other way round. The only regular feature is our unity in working together.
As we enter collaboration we leave somethings behind, there is no room for ego, conservatism or caution. There is only one coat hanger for political considerations of gender, the main one of equality. There are sympathetic considerations toward our individual styles and strengths, but just a glance through a door before sowing the seed for the surprise from our work that stimulates us to the next.
Bridge is about this ongoing story as well as the Metropolis in its marks.
Details and process