‘Ellaguroo’ is an acrylic painting on canvas 75cms width x 75 cms height. It is part of a series of paintings made to celebrate the colour, light and sound of different non-European cultures. ‘Ellaguroo’ is evocative of the tribal and primitive. It could be described as a ‘jazz’ painting because it was worked during a period when I was listening to a lot of modern jazz and in particular Miles Davis’ 1970 album ‘Bitches Brew’. On this recording Miles experimented with a variety of different sounds sourced from different cultures and traditions. At the time it was said to be "one of the most remarkable creative statements of the last half-century, in any artistic form. It is also profoundly flawed, a gigantic torso of burstingly noisy music that absolutely refuses to resolve itself under any recognized guise." Bitches Brew not only became a controversial classic of musical innovation, it also became renowned for its pioneering use of studio technology. I wouldn’t dare to begin to place ‘Ellaguroo’ anywhere near Miles’ work , but the music did inspire my painting. ‘Ellaguroo’ is a free form painting that developed through improvisation but has its foundation in simple motifs and symbols. It is named after a piece of music/poetry by Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. Other sources which inspire these particular paintings are varied and many, including historic signs, symbols and motifs, mythology , North African art, American Abstract Expressionism, John Hoyland, Paul Gauguin, Howard Hodgkin, Helen Frankenthaler, Barbara Rae, Hans Hoffman, Alan Davie, Corneille and the COBRA group. The boundaries of what can be managed in a painting present a constant challenge to me and through a process of layering, cancellation and improvisation my intention is always to test such boundaries. The compositions are structured to allow for incidental visual melodies in the same way a musician can create a sense of meaning and atmosphere through incident and improvised sound. The paintings incorporate visual melodies that have a principal part in the visual harmony.
I work on custom made frame stretched 8oz unprimed cotton canvas. The unprimed canvas allows dichlorotriazine dyes to saturate and bleed into the working area. I work over the dyed canvas using brushes, knives, cloths and squeegees to manage layers of acrylic paint. It is a continuous process of ‘correction’. At different stages I add crushed sea shells to the paint to create heavier surfaces. The paintings are built in layers over a period of time. I like to work on several canvasses at the same time, often returning to a previous painting to affect change and absorb influence from another source. Most of my work is made in series.
Acrylic paint and dyes