I no longer recall how this image came about, but I still hear the dark echoes of its tortuous creation. It is the emptiness that both troubles and satisfies me. The lack of substance of the world in which these fellows exist, and wait, in line.
That emptiness proved the main battle in creating this piece. The instinct to add environmental context, more detail, more intricacy, whispered then screamed not to leave this much of a void. Even the shadows of the figures have been shunned.
I arrived at the composition with the help of paper cut-outs, moving them around to find just the right position. The precise location of the mysterious solitary figure posing a particular challenge in finding balance yet retaining some tension.
Working in detail threatens to lose touch with the overall tonal balance of a piece. With so much space, tonal balance was much less of an issue than those with heavy coverage, but there is always that final round of adjustments near the end. Blacks are deepened – since they may have lifted a little while working other areas – and highlights lightened. I often only work this adjustment stage after letting the piece rest for a few days, coming back to it with fresh eyes.
I wish I still had the early sketches, the reference material, notes. This piece is a constant reminder that our body of work is more than just the finished item.
Profile of the Artist: Neil Dixon ASGFA was born in Wales and now lives and works on the North Cornwall Atlantic coast. He began working life as an illustrator for print, media, publishing, and retail. Having spent the past 15 years working in more design-focused and technical fields, he is returning to his roots, rediscovering old skills, and resurfacing his creative side in both writing and art.
Neil’s work stretches between the extremes of highly-detailed, laborious drawings, to expressive abstract paintings: neither could exist without the other. Neil was elected to the SGFA in May 2015.
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