Patrick Viale is an artist and a regular contributor to No More Workhorse. Here, he talks about his artistic process and what inspires him. You can find out more about Patrick’s Work here.
People have often said to me how lucky I am to have an interest in painting, how satisfying and relaxing it must be. Yes, I do feel very lucky, and sometimes satisfied with the work I produce, but relaxing is not a word I would ever use about painting. I find that the whole process of creating a painting can be daunting, often stimulating and exciting, more often frustrating, but rarely relaxing.
The starting point of any painting for me is often prompted by a glimpse of something familiar in a different light, a combination of colours or objects that catch the eye or the memory of somewhere I’ve visited and the feeling it inspired. I take a lot of photographs, both of interiors and landscapes/ cityscapes, and use them to get the shape of what I am going to paint clearly into my mind, but don’t actually look at them while I’m working. I will do some rough sketches before starting, to position what I intend to paint, and also to see what needs to be included (and omitted) to make the painting work. This also helps determine what size board is best suited to painting I hope to make.
Most of my paintings come in one of three sizes – 24×24 , 24×18 and 16×12 inches. I have painted larger paintings, the largest a commission of two paintings 36x48inches, but do not like painting on a smaller scale. I have the board cut to size, primed, and I generally will add a coloured undercoat to add tone and depth rather than painting on a white board. The images here show what happens next. I sketch an outline of the painting on the board and start with the background colour, not as easy as it sounds because it will determine the exact shade of the other colours which will harmonise or contrast with it. This step often takes some days. I let this colour dry and make sure I’m happy with the result before continuing. Then I mix a number of other colours on the palette and start working towards the front of the painting – what you see first, you paint last. The painting then “rests” for several days before giving it a thorough examination to see what final touches need to be made, or whether it is best to scrap it and start anew.
This particular painting developed without any major hitches, not always the case. It was a scene I was very familiar with – an old shed outside my back door alongside which I had planted some double hollyhocks and irises. I had painted the walls of the shed a shade of rose pink which had faded over the years and the old window frame was in need of serious attention. The shed had been knocked down several years before I started and the painting was really a recollection of a corner of my garden that I loved. I had grown the hollyhocks from seed and had always been struck by the strong contrast their rich colours made with the more subtle flowers and leaves of the irises. The shed, the flowers and even the plant pots are long gone but a memory of them has been captured here. The final touch is the signature which can be anywhere on the board – I sometimes have difficulty finding it myself – but keep looking, if I’m happy with the painting it WILL be there!