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Isabel's pond revisited

I started this painting 40 years ago and then forgot about it. Recently trying to organise the storage of pictures in my studio I came across it and thought it was worth revisiting. At that time I had not evolved my bare canvas lie approach to separating areas of colour so this painting runs a bit like the motif from an oriental carpet like the one below.



The original painting had been done in acrylic and, like a lot of my acrylic pictures had got damaged. Maybe because it was painted on board and that flexes and makes the paint lose its bond but I am not sure. I have retouched another painting I had found a home for in the 1970s and it too had little area of delamination, not to mention superficial accretions from where it had been hanging in a dining room. You know who you are! Anyway, here I decided to repaint the entire contents of the pond. When it is dry and varnished it will all bond together.


I was very conscious of Mattisse's paintings featuring goldfish and Monet's water lilies when I set this up but I also wanted to set up a composition that included some rotation within the pictorial plane so I pinned the corners of the pond to the offset diagonal points top and bottom and the parallelogram grew from there. I painted the sort of paving slabs you find around little ponds. I painted them out of square, as it were, because i did not want the shapes to be architectural. They had to be yellow because so much of the picture was going to be dominated by green.


I wanted to have a sort of shimmer from the grass, so this is built up of a lot of little brush strokes of different greens laid over a light brown ground - like the gravelly soil you find around London. It took a lot of time and I was tempted to give up by the tedium of doing it. That's the sort of thing some people ask their assistants to do.


The fun came in painting the water. Because of the swirls in the water surface I imagines being caused by the water running down the rill into the pond and by the fish rising to feed I could make these much looser brushwork.


In contrast the water lilies are hard edged pink groups in the top and bottom of the "pond", with dup brown shadows with equally hard edges running down from them, in which you can see the roots of the plants dropping down. The flowers are grouped top left, either ope and as star bursts or closed as pink tinged pyramids. They form a line parole to the adjacent edge of the pond. I don't think they would do this naturally. it is just a compositional trope.




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