Not long ago, I was invited by the Claremont Gallery to join their Christmas Exhibition. The only stipulation was that, whatever I made, it had to be on A5 sized paper. Since I happened to have an idea I'd been looking for an excuse to work on, I set to it.
The only difficulty was that I was very short on time, which meant that I had to transform some sleeping hours into painting hours. So, in the end, I was painting icons by day (something which I will post about in the future) and painting this on a little dressing table in a noisy hotel room by night.
This little procession is made of of four panels:
They were painted in egg tempera on hot-pressed cotton rag paper. Painting in egg tempera away from home means I walk around with brushes, pill boxes filled with earth pigments, and an old spice jar for pink peppercorns filled with an egg yolk, water and vodka solution shoved in my purse and pockets.
I love working in this long, horizontal format. Looking at Japanese and Chinese scroll paintings—whether they be of wide landscapes, processional scenes, or stages of a narrative—always makes me want to run home and start working on something new, as do medieval European paintings in similar dimensions. Though I've come up with many ideas in this format, such as folding books, long paintings, and prints, somehow this is the only one that has come into being so far. Hopefully it will not be the last.
The themes in this work have much in common with other pieces that I am currently working on: the juxtaposition of an overwhelming vs abbreviated natural world; the individual portrayed as a group; and the human will shaping/being shaped by the environment, to name just a few of the shared themes.
If you happen to be in the Aberdeen area in the next little while do stop past the Claremont Gallery to see the Christmas Exhibition. Tomorrow evening is the opening reception from 6–8:30 pm, and then the show will run until the 31st of January, 2015.
I should mention that I also have three prints on display as part of the Society of Scottish Artists' Annual Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy, on The Mound in Edinburgh until the 20th of December. Hope you can make it!