I went painting today outside. My intention was to find a spot in the woods, and add to this half made painting:

The painting felt too flat! I wanted to add textured paint on top, to add some depth, to block the viewer, or invite them in? I don’t know really, I just wanted to try it.

The painting afterwards (I am hesitating to say it’s finished):

What doesn’t work

The size of the brushstrokes – Too small. There is a textural contract between the under, glazed layer, but there also needs to be a brushstroke size difference. It just looks too samey. Too busy. The size of the brushstrokes on top are THE SAME in shape and size and gesture and the ones underneath. The brushstrokes on top should be larger, big, broad brushstrokes, fewer of them, sweeping across the canvas. OR the brushstrokes should be much smaller, dainty lines – like the structures in my uni paintings!!!!
It just doesn’t work for the brushstokes to be the same size, oki.

Here’s a digital mock up of the painting with digital brushstrokes on top, much wider ones than the real ones:

It looks really cool! I like the big blue brushstroke that goes across the painting. It reminds me of Howard Hodgkin’s painting called ‘R.B.K’ (1969-70).

The bigger brushstrokes create the illusion of depth. Because if you were looking into a woodland area, the objects in the foreground would be much bigger than in the background. It’s amazing how much better this looks. There is depth in the painting. The brushstrokes from the bottom layer suddenly look small!

The question is, should I add the big brushstrokes in the studio, or should I go somewhere and paint them? I don’t know what experiential reason there is for these top layer of marks. They’re not describing the same place I originally made the painting in, although I could do that next time – returning to the same location multiple times before and after glazing etc. They’re a bit like the structures I used to add to the paintings; they are designed, thought about, so perhaps just being in the studio?

When I was out painting today, I found it hard to make the marks that described the place I was in and also be conscious of the painting in the background. I am used to painting outside on those big canvases and having free abandon to fill the canvas intuitively. If I had done that today, the layer underneath would have been covered. This new layer has an unfamiliar way of emerging and I’m not quite sure of its cause.

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