Technique and condition

Painted in oil paint on three standard-sized hardboard sheets, rough side uppermost. The boards, hung side by side but not physically linked, are stiffened by battens glued and nailed to the reverse. The rough forward surface is covered with a thin but opaque coat of white oil priming that retains the texture of the board.

Paint is applied boldly in broad strokes. The composition altered radically during the painting process. Previous schemes are visible when light rakes across the surface and catches the tips of impasto from the earlier design. The boards were laid side by side during painting so that colours continue over the join although brush strokes are interrupted by the edges.

For the final image, vertical strokes were applied first in several layers of overlapping colours, dragging the brush or working wet-in-wet, allowing the paint to drip and run across neighbouring colours. A major re-working of the background in thick swathes of yellow followed: the yellow being slightly transparent is modified by underlying colours from the earlier design. Arcs of black and red were introduced and vertical forms re-established. Chunks of impasto, caught up in the paint, were flattened when still malleable and scratches have become an integral part of the art work.

Each panel flexed readily despite the presence of battens. Edges were frayed and battered from frequent handling. Fingermarks, scuffs, crayon and liberal retouching marred the paint surface. And a thin layer of surface dirt muted the colours. The painting was surface cleaned to remove foreign deposits and old overpaint. Losses were filled and retouched to match surrounding paint. The superstructure was reinforced to increase rigidity and to protect the edges.