Outside the lines


When painting the subject of polo with its explosive pace, I rely heavily on photographs taken on the day to help me when I return to the studio.

I have learnt not to be precious about photographs.  When photographing a sporting event, I simply keep my finger on the shutter and take as many pictures as I can – it doesn’t matter if I have to sift through 300 photos if it means I find the one I’m looking for –  a major benefit of the digital age!

For me, the photograph is just the start.  It captures a split second moment, but the image does not represent movement, speed and energy.  The player and pony are static on the photograph.  The most fantastic thing about being an artist is having the opportunity to represent that image on paper or canvas and to bring as much “spirit” to the painting as possible.  Artistic Licence!

So, when I view the photograph, I see a static image, with everything “inside the lines”.  Everything stopped the moment I pressed the shutter.

How can I bring life, movement and energy back into the painting.  “Painting outside the lines”!  From a very early age, we may have been conditioned not to go over the lines.  In a sense, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with this, but I wonder whether this feeling may follow us into adult life?

With a large section of the painting completed with merging washes and colours “within the lines” we can then let go and allow the brush “outside” in a spontaneous, confident and lively way.  With the washes still wet, we can encourage the paint to flow out of the main shapes.  This can create the suggestion of movement and blur.

The polo field is filled with expertise – very talented players and amazing ponies.  Artistically speaking, I love chaos on the paper !