300cm x 130cm (118″ x 51″)
One-off original painting
No prints or reproductions
Fully Certificated with valuation
Heat, UV and fade resistant
Hang in any orientation
“Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie”
This is the opening line from the legendary Robert Burns poem called ‘To a Mouse’. It’s where I took the name from. And whilst this large painting is certainly no mouse of an artwork it was a name I simply couldn’t resist using.
So Timorous Beasties is not necessarily about making a direct reference to the poem; instead it’s about using the drama of the words to echo the drama of the painting. That’s a concept that seems to fit rather well I think. To me Burn’s work is a cacophony of colour, humour and storytelling so what better way to pay homage to his powerful roller-coaster of verse than to celebrate it with a painting that follows these principles.
It’s big, so you’ll need a big wall
Let’s look at those big movements of black.
This is certainly not meant to be a light and airy painting by any means but that doesn’t mean it has to feel heavy or oppressive. Despite the abyss-like depth of the black (that sweeps down through the painting) it works brilliantly because of two things. Firstly because it’s surrounded by lots of white space and secondly because it’s applied over a large surface area.
I think that using dark tones in the right way (and in the right ratios) can produce something rather wonderful, without it becoming unhappy or depressing. It’s a thin line though, I understand that, but I reckon I got it just about right with Timorous Beasties. It’s going to need a big wall though and plenty of room to breathe.
Paint effects and finishes
I’ve lost count of how many shades of blue I’ve used. There’s also a nice contrast between gloss and semi-gloss finishes too. It’s important for the darker areas to have a textural element to them otherwise it can all look a bit uniform. My desire was to create details everywhere and I think I have succeeded. There’s barely an inch of canvas that doesn’t have its own story to tell.
I’ve also used metallic copper and gold and also some small areas of turquoise green. Of particular note is the blended ‘smokey’ effect that appears in numerous places. This technique involves syringes and a thinning agent and requires a lot of patience. In fact patience is key to a painting like this; you just can’t hurry these things, especially when working on small areas at a time.
Land on your own moon
In conclusion I would say that Timorous Beasties is up there among my favourite paintings. It combines all the things that make me glad to be alive. Drama, edginess, honesty, surprise, authenticity, contentment. It would be a rather along list if I were to continue.
The bottom line though is whether it ticks the same boxes for you. What I’ve done is be honest with myself and do the kind of painting I love to do. It’s brave, it’s bold and it doesn’t really care for what others think. Perhaps there’s an element of that in us all? Life is too short to stay on the sensible side of the fence.
Climb over today because tomorrow will be too late.
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