Monday, 29 September 2014

'The Potted Hollyhock', oil on canvas in decorated frame, 18" x 24", by Lisa Takahashi (2014)

Here's my painting 'The Potted Hollyhock' just before I took it to the Royal West of England Academy to be judged for the Annual Open submission exhibition. The Potted Hollyhock is based on a drawing I made last spring at The Abbey Art Centre in Barnet, the magical place where I used to live and work. The canvas lay unfinished for quite some time as the prints gained popularity, but I always wanted to finish the painting! I finally got around to doing so once I had settled in my new studio in Bristol where I now live.

I guess I had a few observations of the paintings of others in mind when painting this: namely a gorgeous Vuillard still life I saw at the National Gallery in Scotland nearly 2 years ago - he left so much of the flowers (the main focal point of the composition) unpainted, leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps...and although I haven't left many gaps there is an 'unfinishedness' in this painting that I feel adds a vibrancy to the quality of the paint. Secondly, I had just been admiring some wonderful work by Paul Nash at the RWA (funnily enough!) and was intrigued by his limited palettes - almost monochromatic paintings filled with every kind of variation on the colour blue you could imagine. Again, I wasn't able to limit myself entirely, but just had the thought in mind. I also had in mind early Freud paintings...when he was actually interesting, and when he painted the most beguiling interpretations of plants in pots. If only he had remained interesting as a painter, and interested in this subjects!

Anyway, I digress... the frame was decorated by me after I was dissatisfied with the frame I ordered (my fault entirely) and so I took a leaf out of the book of Vanessa Bell, and also Ben Nicholson, and decided to paint the frame how I wanted…  in a way that in terms of colour perfectly matched the palette I used, and in terms of motif, echoes the lines found within the leaf structures, and the shadows cast on the pot. This is the first painting I have made where I consciously, comfortably and confidently blurred my distinctions between painting and drawing, and found a new freshness in the quality of the paint I was working with.