Crimson Tide

red splash and drip painting

A red and purple painting with splashes of white and blue

It’s amazing what a drop of paint can do. It can divide, unite and challenge us and it can calm, excite and disgust us. Perhaps then, just occasionally, it’s nice to gather those extremes up in one go.
140cm x 60cm (55″ x 24″)


red and purple painting above a cream sofa
details of splash painting
purple and red paint on canvas

It’s a waiting game

I’ve wrestled for ages for a suitable name for this red and purple painting. Likewise with the timing of it’s release. It’s been done for quite a while now but for some reason I have hesitated in putting online.

It’s a funny thing really – sometimes you just have to live with it in your own space until it’s the right time to show it. I can’t disassemble that any further but now is definitely the right time.

Splash and drip

The colours are favourites of mine, no doubting that. But rarely do I ever go quite as bold as this. So let’s establish the technique before we go on; it’s a combination of methods but at its heart there’s a top half of purple and a bottom half of red enamel paint. Over this has gone a repeating sequence of dripped and splashed applications of white, black and a couple of shades of blue.

The word ‘splash’ is probably a little inaccurate though as the main white elements are placed with a great degree of accuracy and care – it’s just that I have no real idea how to define the way in which I scoop up the paint on a wooden spoon and crouch down to flick it on to the canvas.

In order to get paint to travel it has to be accelerated otherwise it just stays in one place and moves outwards from a central point. If you want it to cover distance you have to give it some beans (be quite aggressive). And that’s where the dangers arise.

Luck or skill?

I think that entirely depends on your point of view. Let me answer that by saying that it was my intention to create a reasonably contained ‘body’ to the splash applications and then let the excesses move outwards. I certainly didn’t want to cover the whole thing (as I have done in a few previous paintings).

No, this was all about weighting the painting evenly from the centre and letting the rest of it find its own way. So I suppose you could say I am both skillful and lucky at the same time.

red and purple painting Crimson Tide

How does this make you feel?

Now that we’ve established the technical things we are inevitably brought to the question of your emotive response.

My focus group (who see everything first) really don’t like this painting. I’ve never had unanimous rejection before. But undeterred I press on with its publication anyway. I have had comments telling me it looks like a road accident; one said it reminded him of the thing they pull from Neo’s stomach in the film The Matrix. My mum loves it though which is surprising given her conservative tastes.

One recent visitor to my gallery said it looked like a bird of paradise (how nice) yet another said it reminded her of death.

But it’s all good, for one good reason

So let’s end on a positive note; it is very striking. It’s highly emotive yet also beautifully executed. It’s got balls, it’s unapologetic and it will definitely split your friends into the lovers and haters. But it is also redeeming.

It’s rebellious and confrontational but if you can get beyond that it’s one of the most precious, singular and bloody-minded forms of self-expression as I have ever created. One single shot of life in a world that is dead from the neck up.

Please, go find your own excessive moments and live them. Find your pulse. Energize yourself. Celebrate your uniqueness. Dance, shout, swear, love, sleep.

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