Echoes & Origins – Painting & Writing

Echoes and Origins, Jake Jackson, Nick Wells 01I’ve started painting again. Ten years ago I put my easel under the bed, for good reasons at the time (children, space, lack of inspiration, life, blah). But now it’s out and dominating my energies late at night in that gap between feeling tired and actually forcing myself up to bed.

Although I write in the mornings at the weekend, my best creative time is after at midnight. Older now, I can’t keep going as late as I used to but I’m enjoying the reconnection to a part of me that seemed to have been left behind forever.

New Work

I’ve planned a series of paintings around the same themes as  the world of the fiction I’m currently writing. So far one book (of a trilogy), one novella and 6 short stories are drafted, each exploring aspects of a universe dominated by characters striving against forces beyond their control, and the nature of their own existence. The fictional world stretches from the beginnings of the universe to the present day and features a band of musicians, the Sidhe, a hunter of dark demons and a host of diverse characters. The storytelling method uses three threads of time: the tales of the Sidhe told from their POV through epic poetry, a discovery of ancient fragments offering a narrative from the beginnings of the universe, and the everyday thrust of the main story which focuses on a group of young friends coming together as a band. The short stories and the novella deal with the consequences of actions in the first book.

The painting in this post is a method test, to make sure both content and technique reflect the themes of the fiction. Created over several days (one layer per day to allow the paint to dry sufficiently) the use of acrylic paint allows for a writing-like rhythm and forces a healthy amount of contemplation in-between.

Key Themes

  • Perceptions and concepts of time, time events, moments and flows. Essential to the story and the paintings.
  • Exploring the themes of beginnings as endings, endings as beginnings.
  • Exploring collisions of light and dark, manifesting as particles, people, avatars, spirits, shadows and spectra of light.
  • The essential unity in duality: ‘being not being’, ‘action and inaction’, ‘bound and unbound’
  • The enduring conflict between fated actions vs self-determination. The free flow of paint takes on a life of its own and creates rhythms within its own system (the canvas).
  • The conflict between the eternal and the finite with the presence of the pre-eternal undermining the concept of the eternal.
  • Exploring the First Law of Thermodynamics, the Conservation law of Energy.
  • Textures, flowing lines and layers built on layers reflect the actions of micro-atomic particles and explore the implications of quantum mechanics on the greater movements of planetary systems.

So, plenty of themes to work with here, probably for a lifetime and beyond! The paintings, the stories, with poetry and music too the Echoes and Origins project is developing into a large and absorbing ecosystem of creative work and discovery.

Painting Technique – The First Test, ‘Intersection.’

The main paintings will be on large canvas, 40 x 60 ins using acrylics, primarily impasto strokes with no black, lots of white. The paints are by Daler Rowney and (mainly) Liquitex Acyrlics.

The plan is for a series of 4-6 paintings with pencilled sketch starts then bold strokes on canvas. Inspirations include William Blake’s prophetic illustrations, Marc Rothko and Gerhard Richter’s expressionist work.

This technique test builds into the intersection between light and dark, exploring the overlaps, the leaks from one world into the next. The painting steps:

  • Using an old, slightly wrinkled, stretched watercolour paper 20 x 30 ins
  • Gesso base
  • Crimson Red impasto layer. Brush and blade
  • Incandescent white (translucent) strokes, very large brush, coarse hair, round end.
  • Titanium White (dense) highlights top half.
  • Vivid lime green strokes on bottom half
  • Cerulean blue, brush and blade, bottom half
  • Cobolt Teal upper parts of lower half
  • Permanent Green, lower parts of lower half
  • Irridescent White medium brush, short strokes, top half
  • Cerulean Blue medium strokes bottom half
  • Permanent Green, medium brush, dry strokes
  • Ultramarine Blue (dark but bright), thick layers, medium brush,
  • Score through the wet paint layers to reveal layers underneath and increase  texture
  • Indathrene blue (dark) lower half with brush and blade
  • Mixed gloss medium with Titanium White. Small strokes, thick paint.
  • Paynes Grey and Indathrene Blue lower half. Dry brush.
  • Titanium White dry brush, blending the middle
  • Purple strokes to enhance the colour under the layers of dark
  • Titanium White dry brush, blending the middle and top
  • Cerulean Blue strokes to bring out blue underneath.
  • Paynes Grey dry brush bottom half
  • Titanium White dry brush top half.
  • Paynes grey and  Titanium White dry brush in the middle
  • Finish with Titanium white drusg brush across the whole area.
  • Need to decide whether to seal the painting with varnish medium.

So here are a few more views of the test, interesting I hope. Let me know what you think!

For more on William Blake, take a look at this post.

For a post on Italian Futurism in painting, please check this post.

For the start of an investigation into art, music and literature of the early 19th Century, please see here.