What are the experimenter’s tools and techniques?
- A space with a standing-height worktable and a few easels.
- Music (for me jazz and avant-garde composers, folk and anything ground-breaking)
- Turps Banana magazine; the rest are not for experimenters
- Some reference points. For me, apart from Turps, I read Richter, Malevich, Rothko and Newman and books on Abstract Expressionism, Futurism, Kandinsky, and grounding in an historical context, such as Mediaeval and Gothic art, Anglo-Saxon art, and illuminated manuscripts.
- Some harder reading. For me this is material on psychology of aesthetics/neuroaesthetics, and studies linking science and art, such as the relationship between Picasso and Einstein.
Paints & Inks
I use non-toxic single pigment heavy-body acrylic paints, tube watercolours, and Japanese watercolours (solid). I am mindful that the names manufacturers give to paint have little relationship to the colour inside.
I use a limited palette, which does change over time. As an experimenter, colour needs to be understood. There is nothing wrong with working directly with paint from the tube (Mondrian used primary colours). I focus on mixing rather than having every colour made and keep a colour swatch LAB notebook. I mix to get a variety of blacks. I like paints that break down in water so the pigment comes out of solution. I use liquid Japanese Sumi-e ink (black) and mineral chips, or acrylic inks.
[Golden, Daler-Rowney, Liquitex, Japanese Sumi-e ink, Kuretake Gansai Tambi, Maimeri]
I tend not to use brushes designed for acrylic paints but will use whatever works, whether a brush, a rag or bit of paper. I like wide brushes and pointy ones: wide is good, narrow/thin isn’t so good (you feel cramped). I also use paint scrapers as well as traditional palette knives. For Sumi-e, I have a selection of wolf and goat hair brushes in various sizes.
[Omega, Russell and Chapple, Escoda, Robertson, Rosemary]
Paper & Canvas
I work on paper, wood and cotton canvas. I don’t stretch the paper.
Paper, up to 850 gsm, are usually from paper mills by the sheet, or vintage papers. Sumi-e uses very light Chinese and Japanese papers.
My LAB notebooks have quite heavy, grainy paper.
Wood panels are either veneered wood panels or plywood panels sliced into various sizes.
Canvas in various sizes , stretched or unstretched. I use cotton.
[paper: Arches, St Cuthberts, Moulin de Larroque, Japanese/Chinese paper sources, vintage suppliers;
LAB notebooks: ArtGecko;
canvas: Russell and Chapple, Great Art
wood: plywood from local DIY or used kitchen panels]