A round canvas painting inspired by North American butterflies

It’s an unusual subject matter for a large circular contemporary painting but the depth and wonder of the species native to North America is incredible. How could I not pay homage to the beauty of these creatures?

Carolina Blue (18)

If you’ve ever spent time in a garden on a summers’ day then you’ll have seen brightly coloured butterflies whizz around you at some point. Having stumbled across these native inhabitants of North America recently I wanted to re-create the delicate natural beauty of these creatures and their brilliant colours into the form of a painting.

I’ve probably spent more time blending blue on this piece than in any other recent painting I can recall. The reason for this is the desire to give the hues some depth and gravity. Too many similar colours can be a bit boring so if you’re going to use a complimentary palette of colours it’s always a good idea to vary their tonal range and their ability to absorb and reflect light – it’s a similar process used by butterflies in the way that their wing pigments deal with different wavelengths of light.

I have now spent over four months on this particular round painting; using that time to re-apply layer upon layer of very runny paint until I have an intricate blending of shapes that evolve as you move your eyes around it. I get frustrated with the thought of slopping on colours here and there and hoping for the best – something I know other artists do on a regular basis. Instead I prefer to make my hours count for something, and I think it shows. You only have to look at the details to know that I’ve crafted this artwork with precision and care.

Balance is also carefully considered and is always the cornerstone of my work. I’m careful not to overdo the colours and mindful of the need to keep the eye moving. This is why the painting is never unbalanced, never heavy and never awkward to look at. That’s the way I like to paint. I don’t want to be wrestled to the floor every time I look at a piece of art; I much prefer it to wrap me in a reassuring embrace and make me feel special. Job done then.

How I create my spin art

The early stages of my process use a centrifuge to create some of the basic line structure using a very thinned out version of my enamel paint. All but the faintest traces of this disappear off the edge so what’s left is just enough for me to begin painting onto. I have to thin my paints to around 11% of their specific density so that the forces of gravity can pull the paint to the edges of the canvas. Unfortunately not much is left over once this is done.

Using these template lines as a guide I then sit down and begin to inlay all the painted layers, one syringe and one needle at a time, working on a small section before moving onto the next. Allowing for curing these circular paintings take around three months to create, such are the number of sessions required to build up the layering and colours. So the use of centrifugal force is only a small part of the creative process and as such it shouldn’t be really defined as spin art, although many people do. Fortunately, you now know otherwise…