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It may be a scrap of paper Iíve saved from a furnishing magazine or the disgruntled look cows give me as I pass them in the field that morning that inspires me to paint. use layers of paper, paint and varnish to accentuate particular areas and to create a tactile surface. This invariably takes time to dry so I work on a number of canvasses simultaneously.
I begin by a applying a subtle texture to the whole canvas using primer and tissue paper, roughly sketch out the composition and block in the larger areas of colour. The image is very abstract at this stage but Iím not precious about keeping within a particular line as this will change as the painting evolves. Next I work on the background design and the main image, paying close attention to balance their relationship as the more intricate backgrounds can easily become overbearing and detract from the whole concept of the piece. I then pipe a line of paint around the outer edges of the main image to differentiate it further from the background.
When itís near completion I apply a layer of varnish and paint over the whole canvas to unite the background to the figure. While this is drying I step back and view the piece from a distance, this enables me to decide which areas need any tone adjustment, and to make sure the facial expressions are correct. Lastly, I work on the fine detail. The eyes are the most important element and finest brushstrokes can change the character and personality immensely.