Read on if you would like to know the story behind this oil painting – it’s development and what was going on in my mind while I painted it. It was a bit of a journey, for instance, I had the urge to paint something big but I didn’t know what.
One evening I saw an epic sunset and was determined to try and paint the peachy reflections on the pale turquoise sea. I had also been inspired to paint some bathers, after seeing a painting of a female bather from the 1950’s, in a gallery in Malaga. I had already located an old photo of some good women friends, that I took on a beach a few years ago. The reason I took the photo is that I liked their strong stance.
Trying to match the colours in my mind
Mixing up the hues was hard because whatever I had in my jar or palette looked different once it was laid on the canvas. The bright ideas of my mind sunk into a dull matt finish on the canvas. In the end, I got the hang of mixing up darker and stronger shades though, knowing they would subdue. However, I also liked the subdued shades and carried on mixing them and building them up as well. I used a limited palette of oil paints – black, white, cobalt blue, cadmium lemon yellow, cadmium yellow medium, light gold, transparent green-yellow, orange and a rose red.
I can’t paint
After a few painting sessions, I came to the conclusion that I’m not a painter – I was crying out in frustration like a child who wants something different from what they’ve got. In my eyes, I just couldn’t do this painting any justice though. I just couldn’t paint it in the style of the art I like. I had to break my original idea up and stitch it back together another way – by drawing upon what has worked before, by breaking some of my self inflicted rules, by admitting I’m rubbish and I can’t paint and yet keeping at it anyway. I had to let go completely and just value my style that comes out on its own. I hadn’t realised that I hadn’t been valuing my own style up to that point. Then I just went for it.
The painting also has a more sinister overtone, as the painting’s lettering was inspired by working towards an exhibition about climate change, about the possibility of human extinction. At first, I thought The End would make a good title for the piece, then I decided it would be even better to embed the title directly into the painting. It took some confidence to commit to taking the painting in a whole new direction, by adding the words. They immediately opened the painting up to be a story, The End of something, but we don’t know what though.
Make up a story
It could be The End of a film, where you have to decide what happened to these funky women, with their female children, who somehow showed up on a beach together. You can make up your own story: My husband said, “Maybe it’s The End of humanity because there are no more male children being born!” One friend said, “It could be that the neon yellow sky is from a nuclear disaster.” “Someone else said, “It might be The End because it’s where the land ends.” You might even recognise some of the people in this painting and you can ask them what really happened, why they all ended up on this beach together, in that particular moment in time?
The meaning comes after
This painting is from my personal experience. I was there, I was invited, these are my friends – I’m one of the gang even. We were on the beach together but I was back a bit, observing – and now I’m questioning what separates us? I’ve been reading a lot of good feminist fiction recently and the stories stay with me long after the book has finished. I think of the female characters, again and again. This painting is like that, a storybook that’s opened. The stories timeline may be non-linear though.
You are going to have a different response to this painting than me and the others. I would love to hear the story that comes to you, please let me know in the comments.
This painting is available to buy on my webshop.
I loved to hearing the angst of the process. The painting certainly turned out to be profound which ever interpretation the viewer puts on it.
For what it’s worth, I saw the group looking at the last sunset they would see.
That’s beautiful and sad – thanks Michael.