Sunday, March 1, 2015

The tiling technique

The Dance
14 x 11
The Russian Impressionists were my biggest influence when I was teaching myself to paint.  When a friend showed me Mary Balcomb's book, Sergei Bongart, I felt like I'd found my people.  Here was a man who painted with vigour and joy.  He loved colour and he dashed it on with big, overt brushtrokes.  I could see his hand in each rugged painting.

I've never lost the admiration for obvious brushwork and colour and it's been my goal ever since. The method of applying individual marks in this manner is called tiling.  Walter Sickert, a great British painter and teacher, compared it to a deck of cards placed sparingly on a coloured table top.  Each card was a separated touch of colour.  On top of those first cards, he would place more cards, bridging gaps in the first lay out, but never completely obscuring the table top.  He recommended marks varying in size from postage stamp to pea.  With enough loose, open layers, he could build rich surfaces and lively images.

The key to tiling is to put a mark down and leave it.  There is no blending or slurring of marks; each one is left as an individual.  The mark won't fit into the painting at first, but, with another mark placed as a bridge between it and its neighbour, it will usually settle in.  Sometimes the settling in takes many marks, and that results in an active, complex surface that's full of surprises for the viewer.  It takes patience, faith, and lots of paint, but it's worth it when it works.

"The Dance" is a recent work that shows a lot of tiling.  If you're in Qualicum Beach getting some sun and sea, I hope you'll stop in to Oceanside Gallery and check it out.

Happy painting!


Maria Bennett Hock said...

love this post and the explanation of tiling! thanks!

Ingrid Christensen said...

You're welcome, Maria. Thanks for reading!