Nothing is really black & white.

Nothing is ever black & white, even though it may appear snow-blindingly obvious.

Estelle 2 JONATHAN ELLIS charcoal on paper 26 October 2014

Estelle 2
JONATHAN ELLIS
charcoal on paper
26 October 2014

White oil paint, on a mixed brown ground, for the first time.

– brown for warmth and life
– black for tone and form
– White for light but also a counter-intuitive flat space which the figure can inhabit and emerge from.
The manner in which the White is put down afterwards in paint, in direct opposition to its status in the drawing of a foundation and support to the drawing and yet (italics) releases and cradles the figure, which couldn’t exist without it. This somehow belies the true oxymoronic nature of the painting – in painting on black, I paint light; in drawing on White, I paint shadows and the light falling on the darkness.
In Robin Child’s brilliant, all encompassing analogy ‘putting in black [paint] is like switching the light on’, the power of the statement (aside from its truth) comes from the momentary feeling there has been a contradiction of physical laws.
Painting light implies that the light is being switched on again, but this time the shadows are already there.
The search is for light, rather than for darkness, but the searched-for remains the struggle to make apparent life.
Estelle Standing (third stage) detail 5 JONATHAN ELLIS  oil and acrylic on canvas 5 December 2014

Estelle Standing (third stage) detail 5 JONATHAN ELLIS oil and acrylic on canvas 5 December 2014

After all that, life today emerged from one brushstroke, perhaps a stroke of luck, which was deep in the mire of confusion in the hinterland of underpainted black, a sienna ground and the previously painted tentativity of White, but a notated white, not a solid light yet. The white side of the right leg, as we see it, is the stroke.
How odd then, to end up with a painting that is a facsimile of a drawing. Does it matter, does it signify anything, does it mean more or less, that the painted light has been invented rather than isolated in the rubbed drawing?
I have a suspicion that the lucky strike of the lit leg will have to be convincing enough to evoke a memory of a person as yet unseen, to draw anyone in at all.
Then, if at all, it may matter that the light has been painted, without colour.
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