Learning Through Looking – Ivon Hitchens Painting Examples – Painting Technique, Cobalt Pigment, and more Structure and Clarity in Composition Maybe?

June 9, 2012

Just taken a master class in knowing when to stop….Looking through Google images at the paintings of Ivon Hitchens (my great inspiration in so many ways) has reminded me that I don’t need to tie up every ending.  Take an inspirational look:


Indeed, some open endings in a painting are a good thing.  It is only the need to control that requires a painter to reach the very end of the painting.  I am also reminded of a favourite childrens story “The Magic Paintbrush”, a story both myself and my own children have loved, where the child painter finds that it is necessary to leave his paintings JUST unfinished, otherwise they will come alive and actually become the things that they depict.  So, we need the unreality of non quite completion?  I think so, though maybe not for the reason in the narrative, because if my paintings right now came to reality, they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.

Visually, the slight sense of just being undone is both a slightly disturbing but also a stimulating one.  A certain amount of discomfort is a natural part of life, and I guess there is no reason why this should not be the case in a painting.  However, I do confess to liking sometimes to be able to read to the very end of a narrative, and the same goes for a painting too.  And sometimes we want the whole to the very detail, the finest detail.  I was thinking about this last night, that final touch moment.  It is a jewel.  So both are true, the open and the closed.  I guess it depends on the particular painting, how far you go.  And the mood you are in!

In some of the recent paintings I have used the PUREST pigment and to very exciting effect.  I took the cobalt (pure cobalt, not a mix) from some of the silicate colourisers I brought discounted last year (an easy matter, to drain off the potash waterglass and take spoonfuls of thick brilliant cobalt from the container) and mixed with white acrylic so that I could use it on the canvas.  It is heavy. Heavy, the weight of the pigment.  It’s very noticeable. (oxides of cobalt and aluminium, PB 28). And though when I have heard people rattling off in the past about the importance of quality, I have to admit that they are right, particularly if your painting becomes such that it depends on the impact of the light bouncing off the surface as a significant feature of the content, as so much non representational painting does.   Well, all painting does, but I think having no pictorial concerns does free one to become quite absorbed in the finer dimensions of paint itself, and I think this is the pleasure for me right now.  I just see what I am doing as getting aquainted with my materials and techniques.

After a little experiment in restricted brush use, (ie only using same size round and flats, though sometimes in bunches of more than one brush) I happily return to my former practice of using a variety of brushes.  I was testing out something I heard someone say which I thought very ridiculous but I thought I would test it out anyway.  They said that you didn’t need lots of different types of brushes.  Well, you do.  And if you want to call yourself a painter, you certainly do.  It’s nothing fancy.  Just common sense.   I couldn’t quite stick to restricted brush idea, but I thought I would give it a try.  Silly me.  It was handy with the acrylics though, in that I have lots of cheap brushes which I could use with complete abandon, (ie, no need to wash, just pick up another one and leave the used one in water).  This IS a good idea.  Easy to use brushes very dry and very wet, which is handy.  However, best with some more expensive spalters and filberts.  And I do wash those, very carefully, because acrylic is a horror for ruining brushes.

Thinking of blues, this is a nice handy run down:


Feeling in need of some structure and clarity in my painting right now, so planning to take a look at the “Structure and Clarity” part of the Tate Modern on Level 5.  Though I initially planned to work on some non objective compositions based on the fundamental forms of construction, I was unable to contain myself within these boundaries, and instead opted to continue to experiment with an evolving organic, process based approach to composition, because I find it more exciting.  However, there is some comfort in knowing where you are starting from, and I think I would benefit from a little more pre determined structure, so I think a visit to “Structure and Clarity” at Tate Modern will serve my imagination well.  I am increasingly aware of how important it is to give myself plenty to think about, and this in the visual sense, not a matter of ideas, but just a matter of seeing and sensing.



Painting below: “Resting Place” Jenny Meehan



Boat House - Romantic Expressive Abstract Lyrical acrylic painting by surrey south west london painter artist jenny meehan imaginative internal landscape

Again, as always, image only gives an idea.

Though I believe a painter should always seek to challenge themselves by experimenting with a great variety of underlying compositions, I don’t mind working on a series of these internal landscapes, and I think it will be good to have a strand of work which takes a pre determined direction.  So I am quite looking forward to continuing to explore this route.  It seems to fit in quite well with my approach to my work at the present time which is  rooted in an awareness of the intimate relationship between psychotherapy (which I am undertaking at the present time) and painting, which I find is a very interesting way to  think about my work critically. Not the only way, by any means; historical context, the analysis of surface aesthetics, and just straightforward description of the paintings, are all modes of critique which hold interest for me.  But as the creator of these paintings, I’m interested in the unconscious ideas behind my work because I find I discover things, both through the painting process and the final paintings, which bring a clarity to my life, both emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.


One Response to “Learning Through Looking – Ivon Hitchens Painting Examples – Painting Technique, Cobalt Pigment, and more Structure and Clarity in Composition Maybe?”

  1. jennymeehan Says:

    Please note that my website is now http://www.jamartlondon.com as http://www.jennymeehan.co.uk has expired! Take a look at my website for more art work by Jenny Meehan and sign up for my bi-annual newsletter. You can also sign up as a follower on my wordpress blog!

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