Diary of a Painting - Tess Williams

‘Rewrite’ 122x183cm, Oil, Acrylic & Ink on Collaged Canvas, 2019

- Starting out – Large-scale collage - Stretcher size: 122 x 183cm.
- Thinking about positive/negative space, balance, contrast, composition, colour, layering, edges.
- Important to me that my paintings have the right balance of dissonance and resolution - that relationship is always on my mind.
- Stretch the initial layer of canvas. Raw unprimed cotton duck. A coat of Ivory black once stretched. This layer will be barely visible when the piece is finished. It’s just a base surface to collage onto.
- Painting separate individual sections of canvas of various shapes and sizes – using Oil, Acrylic, Inks. Ripping, cutting. tearing the canvas. A very physical process. Each piece of the collage has its own separateness and materiality. Pattern, texture, mark-making.
- Not yet knowing how these sections will come together exactly, but thinking of what I want the outcome to be. Have a rough idea of what I am aiming for, but my work is also intuitive so I allow things to develop as I work.
- The balance of control and spontaneity during the making process is always important.
- Working with the stretcher always horizontally on the floor. Add a few base layer pieces onto this to start with. Using Matt Medium gel as the glue.  
- Then start pinning other pieces – playing around, constantly reconfiguring. Adding, Removing, Painting over.
- Only when I lift the stretcher upright can I see the painting starting to take shape. I do this regularly – inbetween adding more sections of canvas. The composition slowly evolving, piece by piece.
- This process continues – taking breaks to do other things in the studio while the canvas layers dry and set.
- Constantly shifting, resolving, shifting again, becoming uncomfortable, looking for readjustment - until I finally decide that the painting is finished.

- Albums by Prince & Jamiroquai.
- Various episodes of Desert Island Discs
- ‘Painters Today’ Podcast – episodes with Fiona Rae and Biggs & Collings.
-  Russel Toveys Podcast ‘Art Talk’ – an episode with Marin Creed.

- Robert Motherwell ‘Early Collages’
Really interesting insights into collage as a medium, and as a discourse for painting. The book goes into detail about which elements of the collage making process Motherwell wanted to be evident. How much he wanted the artists touch to be present, and which parts of the materials he wanted to show – for example he often made a conscious choice about when he wanted the ‘glue’ to bleed through to affect the paint, or to stain the raw side of the canvas. These parts of the making process are things that I am constantly thinking about, so this book has been really on point for me.

Tess Williams