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The possibilities of painting in crime-fiction...


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We may have reached the end of the series! The flatter blue has transformed the painting, pulling down those blues from above. Ditto the black-side. I've tuned up some of the colours in the top band and the white -stripe on the left, now sharper & clearer. It is very satisfying seeing an idea from the novel, making it visual but without compromising my own ideals and ambitions for painting. I'm enjoying the contrasting drawing on the left and right sides and the crafted, musical marks in the top bands. And the elusiveness of the imagery, there but not there...


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 SAT 28 NOV a.m.

 Things are happening. The novel is about a strange symmetry and of course the twin-canvas format allows that. But this is emphasised by the placement of the location as a balanced dynamic chevron. 

There have been a lot of blues towards the end of this series - I need a very special blue to simplify the area above the chevron, something less gestural...


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Two rows completed...


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Three different ways to go with this painting...


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The '20 Books=20 Paintings' series will be shown for the first time in 'Painting the Novel', a solo-exhibition at Linden Hall Studio, Deal 6 - 27 Feb 2021. 


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One last brushmark sets off the pink and brings light into the painting...


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Went back in to tune up colours, particularly the carved-out yellow, and introduce detail: pink dots and tentacles (railway lines, if you wish). Unique to this series, the source novel was a gift, sent to me 3 years ago from a couple of friends in Australia, who enjoyed the 'City of Glass' series. 'Hope you enjoy the detail and the obsessiveness'. I certainly did!  Thank you Genevieve and Phil - hope its been worth the wait.

One more blast of David Bowie's 'Station to Station' - we're done. 


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I'm enjoying this painting more and more. Book or window? The rose mark hovers towards us and the skeletal 'map' appears tucked behind. One more session...


Now we are getting somewhere (4). Time to clean some brushes and reflect. The palette of the novel is a bit grim: unrelenting grey, a summer sky 'almost blue' and accents of rose. I'm not so good with drab but we do have some grey.  Also a blue made from a King's Blue and Payne's Grey mix. The stripe on the right-edge is a reference to the tan raincoat of the main character, sort of. A striking Burnt Sienna/Naples Yellow mix with a touch of Cadmium Yellow. The breakthrough came with the freeing rose-mark that echoes in shape and scale the yellow 'map' on the right, a shift, I hope, from left to right, that implies movement, time passing. 


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A book within a book, fiction within the fiction or a murder mystery that might be real. The novel has a complex structure, fliting backwards and forwards between past and present. I've tried to capture this concept of shifting time with the repeated motif of the map - a key element of the novel - in (2). It struck me that only two maps were needed, reflecting the pairings of Cain and Abel and the two sisters in the novel. (3). 


 'Stay' is becoming my new favourite on 'Station to Station'...


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'BOOK 19 - (Station to Station)' will be shown in my solo-exhibition 'Painting the Novel' at Linden Hall Studio, 6 - 27 Feb 2021.


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A good couple of days in the studio - BOOK 18 may be done. A sweep with a fresh blue through the heavy central dark cobalt in (2), now slightly overlapping the yellow, has brought back the openness and flow of the space in (1). Blue and yellow, the surprising palette of the novel - getting the proportion right the key to the painting. Love the strangeness of the yellow drawing/image, which hits the sweet-spot of working for the painting and referencing the novel. The yellow square is a gem too. I stumbled across the title on a re-read (p:100) - perfect.


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I'd been wanting to use this palette in a painting for a while, after seeing Titian's blue/gold skies in the staggering 'Love, Desire, Death' exhibition at the National Gallery.


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A sequence of events: re-watching a film (from a novel) that influenced my work in the 80's, inspired a journey. Later, I remembered a novel that featured the same location, with a motif of blue and yellow, a novel that I'd rejected as a source for the '20 Books=20 Paintings' series a few months ago, failing to find a hook...


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This latest painting in the '20 Books=20 Paintings' series can be in seen my upcoming solo-exhibition 'Painting the Novel', at Linden Hall Studio, Deal. 6 - 27 Feb 2021. The possibilities of painting in crime-fiction...



Reflections, refinements. A jolting blue mark, a line of yellow dots, new reds - now a rhythmic stack up the right-side.

Deeper into painting (6). This surface is worked. A smear/tongue of rust-red in the top-left corner brings difference and direction. Subterranean: cutting through, peeling back layers (5), the reveal of the underpainting. This mark has a presence, part of a trinity of incident. Detail is not always reaching for the smallest brush. I'm enjoying the looking: the meditation of the process, leading to insight. Dense colour and space, emptiness... and silence, in sync with the landscape of the novel. Somehow the canvas-divide allows a shift in scale...


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The shape of place (4) and some new reds...


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Narrative/image...facts from fiction (3). Placement, scale, language: what works for the painting?


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SAT 11 NOV p.m.

Location (2)...


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SAT 7 NOV a.m.

Palette (1)...





The mark that excites, that brings the painting to life with its' purity and difference, rivalling the powerful centre. What a red, what a finale! (8). Now a series of shapes of diminishing scale from bottom left to top-right. Black, white and red - the palette of the novel... We're done (9). Looking forward to seeing this painting on the white walls of Linden Hall Studio.

Starting 'BOOK 17' tomorrow - 'Oceans'.


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A stronger central horizontal that secures the floating black shape into the painting (6): now a mesmeric intersection of lines in sync with the idea behind the painting (7)


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Re-drawing and scraping back along the bottom-edge (4). A sense that the painting was too minimal. Whites more complex and varied. Red-dots and black-dots introduced, forming their own movement.  A relationship established between the centre-circle and the circle in the top right corner (3). Getting closer (5)


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Working the whites, a large red circle going off the canvas becomes a small red circle (2). The left-side must be a white-wilderness. The drawing has lost a bit of life...





White, black, red - the palette of the novel. Working with different whites, different tools, different brands even, to bring complexity to the pure. (1). I would like the white to hurt the eyes...A large red circle next and perhaps a meandering strand of barbed wire...

 'The Three Princes' sounds like a Sherlock Holmes story...