Technique and condition

Eight Forms and Three Circles is painted in tube oil paint on a commercially primed cotton canvas. The canvas, which is soft and hairy, is sealed with a thick layer of glue size and a thin layer of white oil priming that creates a surface with tooth. The canvas is stretched on a six-member softwood expandable stretcher that has square-cut mortise and tenon joints at the corners. Crossbars are jointed to the outer bars with half-laps.

The position of each lozenge or circle was established at the outset in graphite pencil, probably with the aid of a template. An off-white background was carefully brushed up to and away from the edge of each shape working horizontally. The white paint was applied in a stiff paste around each form and then diluted slightly for the main body, so that it flowed into a smoother plane with as few brushstrokes as possible. Some areas were deliberately polished. The artist brushed colour into the reserved spaces soon after the background was applied and it disturbed the wet white background paint slightly, creating a tinted halo around each form.

Originally some of the lozenges were different colours. The pale green central lozenge was once a yellow ochre, while the lozenge above it and to the right was once a shade of sienna. At the same time as the shapes were re-painted, the background was overpainted in white by the artist. The painting is not varnished.

Eight Forms and Three Circles is in good condition. The few superficial grazes in the paint made by the artist resemble scars on the surface. There are a few later minor abrasions, which have been filled and retouched and are not apparent in normal viewing.

The painting is displayed in its original frame of dark grey outer moulding and white inner bevel. It is protected with water white low reflecting glass and a backboard to maintain its excellent condition.

Mary A. Bustin
October 2001