Many thousands of my fans will not remember a 1980s BBC TV series of six programmes entitled “Painting With Light”, which featured well-known artists using the, then cutting-edge, Quantel Painbox to create artworks with what appeared to be a new medium. The artists featured were David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Sir Sidney Nolan, Larry Rivers and Jennifer Bartlett, and they were all filmed using the Paintbox, assisted by artist and technician Martin Holbrook.
I can’t find much online but I scavenged most of this information from a blog post by Tiernan Morgan (the images here are embedded from his blog, copyright applies).
As far as it being a “new medium”, I have mixed feelings. Hockney and Hodgkin used it quite literally, as a paintbox, although the luminance of the display gave it what Hockney described as “liquid stained glass”. Hockney is one of the most inspiring artists as he is willing to try new things and move on, rather than sticking to a formula and knocking out the same old shit forever.
Nolan’s work I’ve never liked and I can’t remember Rivers or Bartlett (it’s 30 years ago), but the artist that really stood out for me was Richard Hamiltion, not only for the quality of his work but also his understanding of the tool he was using. Hamilton used a number of source images to lay out a new work called “The Subject”, which is one of three diptychs. The final work is paint on canvas but the programme demonstrated some of the potential of the then nascent technology, if only as an aid to visualisation.
I hope the series becomes available again, it’s worth watching despite the almost universal proliferation of far superior digital tools.
The reason I am writing about this is that it was a seminal influence on my work, not necessarily the digital tool itself, but more the TV programme and how it gave some insight into artists’ working methods.
Anyway, here is a timelapse video of me “painting with light” from last year’s 20×20 sessions, after abandoning the paint pizza and wondering what to do next.
I’ll say more about this in the next post.