Because the night …


This painting developed quickly and changed dramatically from the initial placing of colour, so I thought I would show how it came about. Nearly all my paintings start from a tiny snippet found almost randomly in a magazine picture. I never buy magazines – except the occasional art mag – so rely on superseded ones being passed on. They can be fashion magazines, gardening, household, anything, the content is not relevant – I am looking for shape, form and colour, and find it in advertisements and editorial images. My technique has refined over the last few years, and I now have a large folder filled with pages that have neat little squares pasted on to them, arranged in a grid. This is purely for the satisfaction of the way they look, there is nothing more to it than that.

I have made a mask from a piece of cardboard with a 4 x 4 cm (1.5 x 1.5 in) square cut in it, and I move it across any images until I find an intriguing composition, then I cut it out and stick it down. A very satisfying exercise when the brain is feeling in need of a rest. It is very random. Sometimes I go back through and find interesting images I completely missed the first time.

Starting a painting I search through my snippets for an image that appeals, then do a very rough painting, marking the forms loosely with a thin brush then slapping colour on quickly. Once I am satisfied with the basic composition I then start refining the image. This is where it gets interesting. Occasionally the original snippet is identifiable by the end, but mostly the painting has taken on an entirely new character, dictated by brush marks or small changes that become bigger changes. Sometimes it works better turned upside down. I am not particularly faithful to the colour in the original image, it is inspiration only.

So, below, first is the snippet that inspired the above painting (you can see bits of the other ones on that page) then the quick rough placement of colour. This eventually turned into the painting at the top. (I struggled a little with a title for this, but to me it suggests a plant in a dark and serious place. Patti Smith provided the title!)

Oil on mdf board, 30 x 30 cm (12 x 12 in).

night_snippetweb night_flower1web

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

23 thoughts

  1. Ahhhh – just wrote a big comment and then lost it! I had said that “Because the Night” had passionate colours and was slightly spooky too – reminding me of both a tornado and flamenco dancing.
    I was fascinated in your magazine process as I have done a similar sort of thing in the past. The lovely thing about magazine images is that you never know what gems are going to spring to your attention.


    1. The magazine process evolved over a period of time, starting with doing collages (which I still enjoy – a collage can create a wonderful reference for a painting) and looking for small abstract images. My recent ones are all fairly identifiable as plant forms of some kinds, but earlier ones were really abstract. I enjoy the serendipity of finding images like this. You are right, the colours in this one are passionate – I was painting this on a very hot day, and one of my fellow artists commented that I was using wintery colours on a hot day, which made me think about the connections and suggestions that colours make.


  2. This is completely fascinating! I had to reread to understand what became what. I like the idea of the small frame to identify the “live” area of interest to base your painting on. What threw me was your (for a lack of a better way of saying this) rough composition to your final painting. I’m a big fan of your paintings but I have to say that rough painting is stunning. Really and truly stunning. To see the chunks of paint and brush strokes in the rough form really excites me. There is so much movement! Your final painting is bewitching and so moody! Beautiful and refined.

    Thank you for sharing all of these steps Anna. Really incredibly interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Cathe! I am so pleased you found this interesting. Well, so you like the rough! You know, all my paintings start pretty much like that, and it is done with a great sense of freedom, just colour splashed on quickly, often just using up what was left on my palette at the end of a day of painting. Occasionally I think about stopping there, but generally I can help myself, I have to keep going! It’s making me think maybe I could do this if I worked really big …. You are giving me ideas! I appreciate your comments very much!


      1. That’s exactly what I thought, how incredibly beautiful would these rough images be really big?! I think they would be so dynamic. Think of the energy and flow they would have! I’m glad you are thinking the same thing. I’m really excited by the strokes of your brush and how the paint pools in some areas and becomes transparent in other areas. So excited to see what happens next!


        1. Progress is such a funny thing – I tend to think of myself as someone who paints/draws fairly small and generally tight, but I am coming round to the idea of big and loose! Very exciting! (It will probably take a while till it all filters through my thought process, but I think it is on its way …)


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