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
We both love staring back at Art History from our digital era. Its tempting to queue up with Artists over the centuries who have been eager to reinterpret … even link with that tradition In a way we find ourselves doing just that with a small sketch of a Rubens drawing started and finished via alteration led by chance into something beyond its origins as we sat in the conservatory working together in fading light. Whilst I’m writing this I know with certainty that an Artist somewhere is looking backwards whilst pushing forwards at the same time, there is a neat symmetry balancing on that line.
I counted two hundred million miles the other day.
A multiplication of orbits, rotations and years since we started a conversation, marked by being in the same place, with the same face.
Two hundred million marks with pen on paper is only one word of explanation, but us making marks together makes the conversation.
Stephen Kirin, December 2017.