Coastal Cacophony, Oil on Canvas, 137 x 101 cm

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23/12/2018; Project the source image onto the blank canvas to indicate the shapes, lines and contours of the image.


23/12/2018; Block in the sky, sea and some reef and wave detail. Pthalo and ultramarine blues and greens as well as burn sienna.


3/1/19. Blocked in more of the background water with paint made transparent with Liquin


8/1/19. Continue to block in middle and foreground with a variety of blues and greens. Brushstrokes as fast and loose as possible to keep the surface movement going while keeping the paint as transparent as possible thinning with liquin so that the gesso ground shines through.


12/01/19. Perhaps the most concentration intensive process of these water paintings is this, the blocking in which is also referred to as the "under painting". I finished this today here in my Riverhead Studio. (5 year old grandson Anakin took the above studio photo). So it is a bit of a milestone in the creation of this work and I am so relieved that I have been adhering to my self imposed schedule toward its completion.

To some this painting may seem finished. That can be understood in a world that doesn't have time for hyper-observation let alone obsession with the minutiae of the World that I do. Although it does have some parallels with the inanity of much current contemporary art discourse in that it divorces itself from obvious narrative while any small fragment of the whole can be separated from it creating a work of abstract decorative superficiality.. . Its depth can only be experienced when viewed in the context of the whole picture.

But no, this painting has some way to go because every little still segment of these paintings, when rendered as components in the conglomerate of the whole, create a paradox where you have the stasis of a 2 dimensional image, while the Surface becomes enlivened by the energy and impulse of every little nervous brushstroke regardless of how far you are away from that Surface. . 

I learnt something recently when good friends Tom and Yolanda were helping to paint our house in Liku, Niue. We ran out of the acrylic colour we needed to finish the job (and you can't pop down to Mitre 10 in Niue) but we had enough white paint and water based tinters in the form of deep vibrant fabric dyes. With a little adjustment for the tonal darkening associated with polymer paint my friends were astonished that I could match the colours so accurately. And indeed, no one was more astonished than I. By removing this colour mixing process away from my palette and mixing them in paint tins and with an unfamiliar medium I came to realise I had answered the questions that I was heretofor dumbfounded by and asked by so many people. "Mark, how do you know how to mix your colours". I know now by this simple diversion that after 45 years of painting I have developed a sixth sense as you will, like any good craftsman. That is to say, an instinctive ability to do this rapidly and without needing to think about it.

Of course, colour mixing is just one aspect of the production of these complex paintings. But with the cognitive realisation of this aspect in mind I intend to use the gift to draw attention to the dire imperatives that are confronting the Earth's oceans........before they lose THEIR colour!


14/1/19. Complete sky with a transparent "stipple" of Titanium white tinted with Ultramarine blue thinned with liquin. Enhanced the sky reflection on the back to middle ground water surface with a glaze of Titanium white tinted with Pthalo Blue Red Shade. Slightly darkened the seabed with a glaze of Winsor Emerald and Pthalo turquoise. 


14/02/2019. Painted in the wave forms and water structures and details accentuating the water caustics affects of the sea bed and starting to define the reflection of the sky and foam on the water. This third layer is the most complex, excruciating and time consuming part of the work so have completed only two thirds of the way down the painting so far.


15/03/2019. A part from some finishing touches and highlights, completed the detail of the seabed from the middle down to the bottom of the painting. Will now go back to the horizon finishing the waves, sky reflection and other details down to the middle of the painting

23/3/19. Complete the right foreground detail then add form and detail to the waves. Define the sky reflection on the water and add finishing touches.