Painting on top of old paintings

I’ve been looking through some of the paintings I’ve made over the last year or two and editing out ones that don’t reflect what I’m aiming at right now, or that I don’t think are quite what I want to say. I do this fairly regularly, as I paint really quickly and make a lot of work, so some of it naturally gets discarded or upcycled.

This week I’ve picked out two large canvases from 2015 and rather than rip off the canvas, cut it up and throw it away, I decided that there was still something about the work that spoke to me, and that I just needed to change it until it was right. I’m not going to post ‘before and after’ pictures, as I don’t really want to show you work I’m not happy with. Possibly the photos are still wafting about online somewhere anyway, if you are determined to find them, but anyway, I’d rather show the results instead, which make me much happier.

This one, above, as you can read, was called Sauce Choice, and I did like it before, but it was lacking something, which turned out to be some text, a flying pig (Dolphin? Manatee?) and some blue and pink abstract bits.

Secondly this week I attacked a painting of two boys from a flyer for a street wear seller from the 90’s which I’d done in acrylic and glitter. The first draft of over-painting looked like this:

Which I left to dry before adding white acrylic to blot out areas and highlight the best parts.

I’m going on instinct here, so the painting’s quite gestural and layered. In the end I’m pleased with the finished thing. It was utterly mentally exhausting painting in this way, as I’ve not made any abstract pieces for a while, and also I wanted to keep elements of reality too. My brain wanted to paint something and I was letting go and following my gut.

Whether I can keep up painting like this or I go back to a semi realistic style I’ll find out as I go along. Am trying not to plan too much and to see what happens.

This painting happened yesterday, (below) which I stopped painting just about the place where I might think about adding in details and making it legible. I’ll keep it like this, it’s more fun to let your brain fill in the gaps.

And if you read my last post and wondered what happened to the painting of the goths in the park, it went well I think.

What u painting, Helen? I dunno. #workonpaper #acrylicpainting #whatisit #wetpaint #shiftyblokes #art

A post shared by Helen Dryden (@helen_dryden) on

Bits of it remind me too much of Daniel Richter or Peter Doig, though there ain’t no canoes or dinghies in it! Gosh, it’s a struggle when you have absorbed the painters you love and then desperately don’t want to rip them off in any way. No one can be totally original, it’s all been done before, right?  Simply being different for the sake of it is stupid. But also you don’t want to embarrass yourself with blatant copy ism.

Last bit of news today is that there’s now a SALE on at my etsy shop. 25% off selected cards and art works. Prices for cards start at £1.65 +p&p.





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