I've always liked bars. I know that sounds obvious, but I don't just mean the drink - although that's a big part of it. Nor is it the romance and ambience - although - yup, once again, I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. I know I order out of mythology and tradition, as much as cos' I like the taste. Maybe a reason why I'm partial to scotch, or bourbon or other stories in a glass.
No, I mean the design - the sense of placement of the bottles, the way the lights reflect and bounce one from another. The way the geometry interacts with the history and the alchemy of the liquids inside.
So it was inevitable that one day I'd find a way of capturing and expressing this feeling on canvas; and typical of me this began with a glance - noting the scene; then a second glance - quickly sketching lines, shade and absence.
We'd been for "champagne afternoon tea" @jesmonddenehous - Caroline's birthday present, and deciding on an extra drink I naturally found my eyes 'running the bar'. Then I - galant as I am, I felt the need to run it again with a quick pen sketch. Caroline ordered another glass.
Working in pen and ink - with a scene you know will be colourful making quick notes are essential. From this I was able to narrow down the scene - sort my composition, and play with the idea of the interference of absence - how the space around defines everything.
More doodles refined how I wanted the piece to grow:
Each time I saw more and more the way in which the brush strokes had to work - how the lines had to break, and where I wanted the bottles to define and blur.
Working on the canvas the paint was applied quickly and instictively. I'd lined up some of my own bottles to refer to the colours and refine shapes - but this is by no means from life, the colours were impressions - echoes and repetitions of each other.
Letting the first attack dry I felt it was too rigid - too concerned with form and perspective. Last night I returned to the scene and let fly with sweeeps and splats, dollops and whooshes - seeking the moment; after all, to look is to witness the movement - the journey of light.
But maybe that's the drink talking.