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American Tan

This one has a rather different, long history , going back to the 1970s when I was experimenting with different drawing techniques and I did a little wax resist drawing on paper , applying layers of colour and scraping them back, based on a well known reclining nude by Monet. I don't know if this is a recognised technique but I had developed it having looked at large scale batiks by a fellow artist in Kenya, Tatu Laubschen, which I had seen in the New Stanley Art Gallery in Nairobi, where we both exhibited in th elate 60s.

I did not look at this drawing again but hauled it up out of my memory.

I decided I could use the pose of the woman and the bedroom setting but decided to adapt it by omitting the mirror and substituting our ubiquitous cat. I made him bit bigger than he really is, probably because he has become such a dominant element of my recent paintings and this way I could , maybe, pacify him.I made a number of changes, dressing the woman and setting her on contrasting fabrics to represent bedding and pillows.

The whole colour base shifted and it began to take on overtones of Matisse in the treatment of the face's shadows and Pop Art in the candy coloured fabrics and the contrasting pink cardigan and green top.

I use the passive because I let the picture lead me. Once I had set up the figure I just let things suggest themselves to me, e.g. the striped bedding colours and its folds, the blue shadows that run down one side of e figure and then break in horizontally as well.. It was not planned right through in my usual won't. The title came to me when I went to work on her legs. I thought an ocherous colour would fit, and everyone knows , and loathes "American Tan".

Now I am going to show it in "Just Art" curated by DC & Friends Art starting this coming Monday at Denbies and test it on the public.

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