From Carousel to Oklahoma! Fabulous Luminosity in Paint

From Carousel to Oklahoma! Fabulous Luminosity in Paint


Artzu Gallery Manchester TwitterArtzu Gallery Manchester PinterestArtzu Gallery Manchester FacebookPip Dickens is a painter who captures the essence of reality with sublime colour and delicate patterns. She has been the recipient of the Jeremy Cubitt Prize, the Edna Lumb Art Travel Prize and the prestigious Leverhulme Trust Award.

In her most recent work Pip explores ‘the alchemy’ of paint through a complex process of layering and underpainting creating colours which hark back to the days of Glorious Technicolour!

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Pip Dickens, Flash Back

“I’m currently working on a project that, I feel, is going to be really exciting. It is a spin-off from a recent solo exhibition of paintings that I made for Rugby Art Gallery & Museum Buy Art Manchesterearlier this year. I am a great film fan and enjoy looking at the early experimental films of Georges Mélièse (many people will remember his work such as the Man in the Moon. Martin Scorcese’s wonderful film ‘Hugo’ is a homage to Mélièse’s playful yet ground breaking experimentations with the moving image).

Eisenstein, Powell & pressburger and also big production films of the 40s and 50s that championed Glorious Technicolour have been particularly influential. The fabulous, high saturation and luminous colour is so very specific to the big bold musicals of the 50s such as ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Carousel’ and ‘South Pacific’. Capturing the essence of this colour through paint in order to attain this very particular colour and luminosity is going to be a real challenge but one I am really looking forward to taking on.

I am a painter who pays attention to the alchemy, or chemistry, of paint – it is much more flexible medium than people might imagine, sadly, so little of the materiality and characteristic attributes of pigments and colours is taught on painting courses these days but all the evidence and techniques can be discovered with a little research and visiting some old Master paintings!

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Pip Dickens, Auteur

For example, recent paintings have used an old ‘standard’ technique called tint and grisaille. Traditionally the grisaille is a form of underpainting focusing on drawing the shape or form to define light and darkness. Over this comes fine layers of coloured tints, or varnishes, which trap and enrichen the grisaille underpainting. I very rarely use white as a mix in paintings – except for mixing greys – and have recently preferred to use this method of slow build up of layers of colour tints as the results are really jewel-like – a form of coloured transparency or light emanation effect, rather than just a thick or matt finish. The paintings really need to be seen directly in order to appreciate the richness this method of approach gives.

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Pip Dickens, Vignette Dream Scene

In 2010 I had a solo exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford which included paintings that used this process. I received a wonderful email from a woman who said that she could have sworn that the painting had been lit from the back. Of course it hadn’t but it is this kind of response that makes all those months of experimentation worthwhile – the effect had been achieved and recognised!” Pip Dickens

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Pip Dickens, Artificial Intelligence