Perhaps it’s the impending arrival of November the 5th that subconsciously drew me to the subject of fire. I remember chatting to someone about childhood memories of bonfires, at the top of my garden, that my dad used to light.
Then I got to thinking about the times I’ve been away on holiday and had the opportunity to make a real one, in a log burner, for my family. There’s a primeval attraction to fire and it’s one that will always be within us.
Bear in mind though that I am an abstract artist and therefore the painting is simply a suggestion of the subject matter rather than an actual representation, so that’s worth bearing in mind as you read the rest of this.
Notes on colour choices and forms
As with the very nature of fire itself I am concentrating on two key areas here: colour and shape. They’re prevalent in real fire (along with the temperature aspect that I can’t replicate) and exist within a mainly orange/yellow spectrum of colour.
And although this is represented on well over half the canvas I also wanted to explore the more intense side of things by concentrating much of my effort down in the red part.
This is the the real underbelly of the painting and its expressive nature delves into the very hottest parts of the flame. I imagine a prehistoric burble of burnt methane and sulphur as it reacts with the unburnt air around it. I like the nature of the escape and suppression qualities this painting also brings.
Where flames escape into the embers of the night others remain trapped in an inferno of endless atomic recycling.
Textures, shapes and depth
The layering of paint allows me to build up depth. The basic premise says that the more of something you put on the more of it you build up. However, this only really gets noticed when you leave other areas open.
So the layering of Flank Eruption* has been done in exacting intervals to ensure that nothing merges into itself. Normally there’s a 36 hour gap between layers to allow for curing of the paint.
It’s hard to photograph but even the layers that sit behind have layers within themselves. This is noticeable on the yellow and orange blends. The rest of it is a beautiful example of free movement and compositional phasing (a posh term for the modification of a repeated technique – in this case it refers to the waves of paint that sit at the very top; they gradually morph from solid forms, then to splashes and finally to thin loops).
Creating the feelings
Fire is most definitely the influence behind the painting but it’s not exclusive – you may very well feel something different or it may remind you of an alternative subject matter. If it does I’d love to hear about it.
Overall the tonal shift from red to yellow is designed to take you from the base of the fire all the way to the embers that dance as they rise up to the sky. The other colours, like blue and green, give us a little depth and stop this from becoming a very angry thing.
Finally we get the release of all that heat and chaos as everything slowly moves outwards towards the yellow and orange part. If I’ve taken you on a fiery journey then I consider that a job well done.
*You may like to know that a Flank Eruption is a derived term for a volcanic event created from a pressure build up of magma that’s subsequently vented on the side of a volcano, rather than the top. So now you know!
Now, time to curl up and watch the flames…