on achieving a perfect lichen-ness [part one]

some ‘in-progress’ images of a new painting… the warm, dry weather has helped speed things up…


[6.30pm, wednesday]

and, much earlier (or how this painting came into being)…


i had previously primed and subtly textured the surface in a pale grey – i daubed on the violet-brown to approximate a mottled appearance, which i would later cover with some thin white… i changed my mind about the overall scale of the image… i wanted to ‘zoom’ in more…


some patchy, scrubbed yellowy-grey white, which dried quite unevenly – but that’s ok – i didn’t want it to be too even – with stains, residues, traces, the pentimenti of the previous layers.


more thin layers (or scrubby glazes) in a violet-grey-brown…

with a suitably eroded surface, i allowed a small colony of supersize crustose lichens to find their position quite naturally, based on the uneveness of the surface – there will be more. lichens are actually a fungus which combine with algae (as a nutrient) to grow. i quite liked the look of the painting’s surface before the first (dark) additions of lichen-ness, but it was just a surface, the illusion of a stone slab or a weathered wall – aesthetically very pleasing (to my eyes) but i couldn’t justify it as a proper painting – perhaps i should have been a set painter.


anyhow, work continues on a second painting (no first stages captured on camera) – this one is much darker, with some khaki green and grey-brown… here’s a detail of the surface textures…

as i type, the preliminary circles of lichen are drying on this canvas, and, i hope, to a suitably crusty finish… but there again, i might just have made a fine mess of it

i would like to start a third painting of lichen-encrusted surfaces but i have no more stretchers of this size… and no money to buy any…

i have no art-historical reference or precedent for these paintings (other than my own photographs – the found paintings) but i do have the sustaining concept of always looking at things close-up, magnified, a childhood fascination with the world in macro, seeing the biodiversity of life, secret discoveries, detritus, fragments and all that…

anyhow, some of the striped paintings, the farmscapes, still need resolving, when i get the time. i have become quite locked into painting stripes and striations of late – i can see the obvious visual influences – but the found paintings, in the colonies of lichens, in their unassuming beauty and naturalness (and perhaps the drawings too) have loosened up my way of working, which is good. i realise that i am quite a good constructor of things. i relish the process and i can see how it will turn out. i feel confident and in control – i know what i want to achieve and why. this is some achievement, in an otherwise quite difficult week…

3 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Lovely to be able to observe your process in action, Jazz – fascinating to see the changes from one state to another, & it appears that interesting formal developments are taking place…

  2. Posted July 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Oops – forgot to mention that ‘lichen-ness’ is such a delightful play on words, too

  3. Jazz
    Posted July 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    thank you for your comments…

    i am always playing with words, or misappropriating them, i’m sorry i haven’t a clue influence, etc – perhaps it is a peculiarly british thing to do…

    re. the images in progress – a few years back i made a short animation of the progress of a painting – alas, i seem to have forgotten or rather ‘unlearnt’ how to do it again… taking the photographs (thinking about or just remembering to take them) can be disruptive to the process – i’m just taking one-a-day…