Diary of a painting – Sarah McNulty



Acrylic, ink and dye on glass, 67x 76 cm, 2017

Recently I have been alternating between the studio and projects with large-scale window and wall paintings in relationship to various public spaces in Copenhagen. Back in the studio they shift between a series painted through dyeing processes (using sun-reactive photogram dyes, bleaches and inks) alongside more traditional painterly approaches, often on and over old paintings of mine and other unknown found surfaces. I set these modes of working together and try to figure something out from the tension between.

I found this pane of glass in an industrial recycling shop when looking for surfaces to test, the incomplete frame and format were just right. I wanted to see if dyes would adhere, how the colours would expose on the glass, and work on both sides of the surface, deal with a flat image in visible layers. The practical tests are perhaps a ruse to enter the painting from somewhere else than specific thoughts. The transparent surface slips and shifts just when you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere, and invites the environment into the image. A certain level of control is handed over to surroundings, as the surface will not remain stationary, adding durational elements. I recall thinking about lunar phases and perhaps Ballard’s short story on an experiment to free humans of the need to sleep. Also many hard, solid things, rock, clay, weight and then the gaps between symbol forms and how something actually appears from observation.

A reconstructed record Used / Heard / Saw / Read:

Mix of sun-reactive dyes, labelled navy and magenta but never quite what they say when reacting to the gray Danish sun. The deep dark dyes went soft and pale instead, tender Turner washes that were gratifying but incomplete. The dark solid form was the leftover of a fast blend of something close to Indigo and Burnt Umber, mixed up for recent screenprinting. It seemed to contain and transform the image. Indian Yellow, Titanium White, Terre Verte, Persian Red oils, but I think many ended up on the paintings being painted around. Unknown dirty tubes with illegible labels. Schminke and assorted concentrated inks.

Non-stop news (USA, GB, DK) & the alternatives, Schubert, Biber (the 17th C one), Tammy Wynette, Red Belly Black Snake, Synd og Skam, Dolly Parton, Kompjotr Eplektrika

Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel 2012), Punishment Park (Peter Watkins, 1971), Hamburg research: Max Klinger’s Ride on a Shark (1885), Emil Nolde ink paintings, WW2 Flak Towers, Ulla Von Brandenburg; Marie Søndergaard Lolk at Thorvaldsens Museum, Kiosk 7 projects in Copenhagen

JG Ballard’s The Complete Short Stories – Manhole 69, Cookie! Verwoert, Lerformning (Clay Modelling) Ursula Munch Pedersen, Replay De Keyser, Sten (a 1970’s catalogue of minerals, precious stones, etc), a book on viking petroglyphs and a catalogue of Guston’s drawings