Monochromatic underpainting for one of the two panels in St. Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell, Wales.
I lived in Crickhowell, Wales (aka – The Magical Town of Crickadoon) from 1993 til 2005.
In 1995 I was commissioned to paint two large panels for St. Edmund’s, the ancient church which sits in the middle of Crickhowell.
Because I wanted the panels to tell a story, I began work with monochromatic underpaintings, which allowed me to compose the paintings before adding colour. These formed a foundation block showing the tonal range and overall rhythm of the composition. During this process, changes can be made and indeed many were on both panels before colour was added.
The two finished panels….`My friend Cyma Horowitz standing with me beneath the panels.
When I was commissioned to paint the panels, I was given the following passage from Song of Soloman as inspiration.
‘Arise my love and come to me for the winter is past the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, and the turtle dove is heard in our land’ (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)
I had already fallen in love with the outstanding natural beauty of the area and its people, and so this passage resonated with me. My daily walks prompted a sense of deep gratitude and celebration. Using symbolic imagery, my goal was to integrate these feelings with the words from the passage and I particularly wanted the paintings to speak to the children of the area.
For example, the egg shape window in both panels represents new life; the peacock – everlasting life; the calla lilies – trumpets, and so on. The children of the area are depicted as angels. Many of the animals represented I knew and loved. The church spire and 16th century bridge that crosses the River Usk are included.
To the left of this detail is Bumble the golden labrador. Bumble introduced me to the people of Crickhowell as I took her on long daily walks. Christeve the Cat is front and centre and a friends beautiful sheep dog sits to the right.
As I added colour, I took into consideration the colours used in the stained glass windows and alter dressings – therefore seeing the church in its entirety as my canvas.
I see the underpainting as a metaphor as I compose and establish new rhythms in my life today.