The painting Grey Horse is a walk imagined. Memory can be insistent and not always accurate but I like painter Hughie O’Donoghue’s idea that ‘it is always true, it tries to represent the truth as it is felt.’
My morning begins with a walk before I go to the studio, out of the village and along the Alham, a shallow river less than 10 miles long, lying in a Somerset valley. I don’t draw from life but the walk and the time for thinking it allows offers a starting point. Occasionally, and usually on days of no particular importance, I catch at those unexpected ideas that come and can so easily evaporate. But if I keep my mind on the process and hold my focus the work will evolve and the inherent and beautiful qualities of the medium will look after themselves.
I make my own paints from raw pigments, combining them with a watery acrylic medium. I usually apply lots of layers of luminous glazes, sometimes working into the paint with pastels. This gives me colours I don’t often find with regular manufactured paint.
The cover image, The Sea Carries the Net is a nod to the poem, Night Boat on Galilee, by Pascale Petit. Just over 10 years ago I devised and curated an exhibition at Bankside Gallery on London’s South Bank. The Poet and the Painter celebrated the close relationship between poets and watercolourists. Her poem is a visceral response written upon seeing a museum exhibit of a 2000-year-old boat, recently excavated by archaeologists on the shore of Lake Galilee. I have made several paintings in response to her poem. The Sea Carries the Net, completed just before lockdown, is the most recent.
Another painting from the exhibition, The Gold Dress (back cover), is an imagined portrait that owes as much to early Italian Renaissance paintings as to the appearance of people I know. I have applied gold leaf to form a pattern on the dress. I like how it adds warmth and richness but what I find exciting is the way the colour and brightness of the gold leaf changes throughout the day.
My paintings can be described as quiet. Most evolve over time as the ideas with which I begin develop new meanings. To misquote John Keats, ‘many things are left unsaid’. – David Brayne, July 2020