I have been in South Africa for a few months and the first thing I did was to go to Jimnettes in Lynwoodroad to buy more art material. Mauritius has limited art material and some things are just not available over there. For example, quality canvas.
I looked at the thickest canvas I could buy locally and landed upon a 510 gram Cotton Duck Canvas.
Cotton Duck Canvas is the most common canvas choice for professional artists to paint on. Made from the cotton plant, the material is 100% natural that once stretched, forms a ground support that has good adhesion to priming layers.
I am now using the 1.8-meter wide canvas for the simple reason that I have a 2.7 x 1.8-meter “easel”. This allows me to work on a bigger size for large interiors. I can go bigger than this but then I have to buy the 3-meter wide canvas and my current working conditions will not allow me to go that big. But, I am undeterred by size and will soon make paintings in that size. I have always been one that stretches the boundaries. As a potter, I made pots that ended up being 1×1 meter in size. Why that size? It was the biggest pot my kiln could take.
I then has to find a suitable priming material. And this is where I become a little secretive. I had to nail down the canvas on all sides because of serious shrinkage. The Cotton Duct is unshrunk and can shrink up to 10% once exposed to water. I Lay down a textured layer of my secret colored primer. I prefer a darker color because this allows me to see the bright colors I am using better.
I then decided to add texture and made some experiments with different materials and landed upon latex as a texturing agent.
Now it became interesting because latex is thick and can not be applied with a brush and generally starts drying in 15 minutes. This means I have to work fast if I want to blend paint on the canvas. This allows me a more freestyle type of painting with amazing textures. The small photos on Instagram can not do this justice and do not show the textures. That is why you need to come to my next exhibition to see these paintings in person. The finished paintings are really heavy because I can use up to 5kg of latex on one painting.
For the first time I feel that I am making quality paintings that will last hundreds of years.
My next challenge was my color palette. I decided that I will use a primary pallet and then see what secondary colors flow from that. The primaries are Yellow, Blue and Red. This resulted in lots and lots of color.
I call this process Genesis. Because Genesis is the beginning. All color derives from these three colors. The interesting challenge is to change an ordinary scene into a primary color scene. I work with a few reds and a few different blues. And I have to work fast. This has really helped to solidify my current style and distinguish me from others. I believe that time will tell if this direction is the one that will see my work in many museums and get my name up there amongst the artist who have broken new grounds.
I personally am very excited about my new work. The work is on display at Hartbeespoort and it is already finding new homes everywhere. I would love to stretch this technique further by doing a self-portrait in a large format. I just have a few other paintings that I want to get off the easel first.
My thoughts continue to revolve around the larger contemporary art market and I feel that my work has to stand next to any contemporary artist in any major art fair. If it can’t, I have not yet arrived at the point where I want to be. That is why I am challenging myself on the theme of what I should paint and why I do it. It is easy to paint quaint South African landscapes and make sales but my vision is to reach the contemporary art scene and be represented in the best collections. So I paint on.
My current artist statement reads like this.
I see…. I paint. I am the sum total of what I have become. My work is expressive with bold acrylic latex on large canvasses. It all started with my life as a studio potter looking for the right textures and after that, I became a mineral collector and international dealer of rare rocks.
I guess I was influenced by the bright colors of some minerals. They can be really beautiful and I learned that when you place these minerals in the right spot in your collection it changes everything.
I learned that the right stroke of color with a pallet knife could do the same to a painting. A painting is never really finished but there comes a time in every painting that it all just comes together.
My last two years in Mauritius have inspired me to create paintings in bold colors and textures.
Please comment and tell me about your journey so far.