Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of medium weight plain weave cotton duck canvas that is stretched over a sturdy expandable stretcher and attached with wire staples at the rear. A white acrylic gesso primer was then applied to the stretched face of the canvas and around all the tacking margins to the rear turnover point. The primer would have been applied in a fairly dilute form and the canvas weave texture is still very visible through the resulting thin layer.

The paint is thought to be principally acrylic emulsion, although the artist has written 'oil + acrylic' on the reverse of the canvas. The black background colour is certainly acrylic and would have been applied directly to the primed canvas. It covers the entire stretched face and all four edges of the canvas (although the top and bottom layers are not completely covered). This paint layer is extremely flat and uniform in appearance and would have been thinned with water and probably applied with brush. The next areas of paint application were the rectangles and outlines, their straight edges probably being achieved with masking tape. These colours also appear to be acrylic emulsion. Next, the areas of thin but glossy black paint were applied, which appears to be the oil paint. Finally the thick and often-blended areas of colour were applied, again in acrylic emulsion. These paints would have been mixed on the canvas extremely rapidly and brushed and/or pulled around the canvas. A combination of wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry was employed. They are of far higher gloss than other areas of acrylic paint and exhibit a relatively diverse surface texture, including variations in thickness, the presence of air bubbles and areas where an upper layer has been 'torn' slightly on application to reveal areas of the underlying colour.

The painting is in excellent condition. Providing some basic precautionary conservation measures are taken to reduce handling (such as its display behind a barrier etc.), the painting should remain in this near pristine state.

Tom Learner
August 2000