Some Paintings (Oil On Canvas)
ULI JON ROTH
Some day during one of my visits at Uli´s mansion in Wales, he asked me to take some photos of him for ´Burrn!-Magazine.
While things were still being set up I did a few snapshots to check the light – they weren’t very good as photographs, but I immediatly liked their ´feel´ and athmosphere. It was there and then that I decided to use them as a basis for a portrait, that I was going to paint…
I wanted to show him as a ´real´ artist, which he is – a man of flamboyance, and vision – a fighter and warrior for the light, who relys and depends on his guitars like a knight on his swords. I wanted to show his fearlessness and courage in the face of destiny, as well as his dedication and faith in his course – and I wanted his beautiful red coat to look a little deranged and battered, because after all, a seasoned fighter has taken a few blows and doesn´t really care about his looks anymore. He has found – and represents – something much more valuable – true identity.
Sometime in 2018 I decided to return to do some more oilpaintings – despite the fact that each one usually takes many weeks to complete. A had a few motives on my mind – all of them being on a rather huge and complex compositional scale – but incidently stumbled upon „Dedication“, a work that I had created on the computer two years before and which was rather simple in comparision. It’s intense and dramatic liveliness struck me again immediately, and I decided to project and enhance it on canvas. So I had a canvas prepared and framed with the outlines of my original work and soon afterwards began to paint. I enjoyed it tremendously. But soon I encountered a few, quite unexpected obstacles. Firstly the canvas was very ’stubborn‘, which meant, I could not ‚glaze‘ – while glazing you use a very thin and floating layer of a certain oil colour with quite a lot of diluting agent to give a certain part of the painting, regardless of the details, a specific tone or shine – a technique I use a lot, over and over again, to achieve various effects of depth or enhancement, both in colour and brightness or darkness. Yet, instead of gliding smoothly and effortlessly across the paintings surface, my brushes always got stuck immediately on the canvas leaving single and unwanted lines of colour, which, to make it worse, I couldn’t wipe away easily. So I had to come up with another way to achieve the desired results. I used an almost dry brush with very little colour and applied the colour by dabbing it in, bit by bit – very time-consuming and sometimes a little exhausting – but it worked. The second of the main unexpected obstacles was, that the canvas was ‚eating up‘ the paint. This – to a certain degree – is a common thing in oilpainting. It means, that the colours lose some of their strength and impact once they start drying. But not to this extent! Each time, I looked at my work the following day, a lot of it had simply disappeared, being soaked up by the canvas – and that, when my main goal was to enhance and invigorate the dramatic impact of the composition, as much as I could. To put a long story short, I repainted some parts of the painting more than seven times, using different colour shades (mixing them on the canvas, rather than on the palette) sometimes even applying the paint pastelike to achieve the depth and definition I saw before my inner eye. The virtue of dedication is symbolised in the eagle. Despite an overwhelming and even threatening situation (depicted and symbolised by the all enclosing powerful and potentially overwhelming waves), the mighty bird is entirely focused on its aim, being in magnificent control of all its means – fearless, without hesitation and absolutely relying on its instincts. A beautiful creature and archetype, being in complete harmony with itself – That’s what I call „Dedication“!