Why add colour? and artist Howard Hodgkins

I have been talking about using colour throughout this project. Before my motive has always been because I want to capture the atmosphere of landscapes.

Looking through the book ‘Howard Hodgkins Absent Friends’ published by the National Portrait Gallery for their 2017 exhibition, I realise that colour has the potential to be used for more than to capture the colour and light in a landscape. (Note it’s interesting here that I say colour & light as if they are inseparable – idea that I think I promote a lot in my work – perhaps something to investigate?)

“Everything is locked into place, and a strange stillness is pervasive.”

P.13 talking about painting Memoirs. 

“Whether relying on descriptive elements or entirely compromised of autonomous painterly gestures, his work must be about something. It must possess meaning in the unequivocal sense that each painting has to refer to something beyond its pictured image or surface characteristics.”


Perhaps colour will bring this meaning into my work, since all my previous experiments I have been capturing the landscape with purpose being to push the technique. Is that enough? Or could I find something more with colour?





Layered on top, underneath. Colour lying underneath – washes, texture of brushes, think subtle layers with thick dark ink drawings on top.

“In a later interview, which took place in 1981, he [Hodgkins] stated, “They’re much more about myself now, or incidents which have personally involved me.’ Memory and emotion are central concerns, and the reasons are evident. We attempt constantly to fathom the significance of the world we inhabit. We do so by interpreting its visual characteristics.”


“the reality of things is not entirely – if at all – a matter simply of how they seem… appearance alone is an unreliable servant. To grasp the world and its occupants in a fuller and more complete way, we must reach beyond the merely apparent..”

P.14 – 15

For Hodgkin’s memory was his way of reaching beyond appearance.


Reading the essay by Paul Moorhouse at the beginning of the book sparked some ideas that I think have been growing for a while. Hodgkin’s work stuck with me since seeing his retrospective last year. Although his work and ideas are different to my practice, his work has been in my mind throughout this project.

I wanted to write out some lines from the essay that I think are important, but not quite sure why yet. I want them to be easily accessible here so I can read them again in the future.

This idea of layers, of colour and monotone, is really interesting. I want to explore this. I have some pictures in my head of work I want to make, but first I think I need to look at more visual inspiration, so that I have both visuals and theory to work with, and think about going forward.

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