A group of hag stones in an imagined landscape placed as if a Neolithic henge monument.
20 x 20 cm acrylic on board, 2020
Christopher Rainham is inspired by the natural world and in particular his own experience of it. He is interested in the way society interacts with the wild and not so wild things that surround it, the effect we have upon the environment and the things that depend on it to live. He also takes inspiration from the way flora and fauna are woven in to language as the explanations of things, stories and beliefs. As characters in myth, religious writing and metaphors animals, flowers and birds have their own symbolism. They are symbols for things we cannot explain.
The objects in his paintings are motifs for his designs, elements of pattern and composition. His responses represent an image conjured up by some text or a feeling found between the lines of a story, a poem or song. He then mixes further knowledge and beliefs from disparate sources and collates them together to create a picture.
Rainham celebrates the natural qualities of paint, what it does, how it feels and smells. He explores how materials change and adapt within the process of painting and drawing and how the materials change and adapt, try to become something else in becoming a painting. His work always starts with drawing, usually directly onto a primed canvas or board or sheet of paper. He makes stencils of elements to be repeated and uses a projector to play with scale and composition. Paintings and drawings are developed using a wash of water on conte or a range of earth colours, blues and greys in paint and then the pictorial elements are rendered in their required colours. Often a painting needs to be ‘knocked back’ by having a wash applied over the existing image to be worked up again.
This technique allows him to investigate light shade and modelling and to play with depth in order to move the edges of objects into the foreground or background. For Rainham, starting a painting or drawing is exhilarating. It is full of promise and possibilities. He is never daunted by the white sheet of paper or blank canvas. He has thought of offering his services to other artists as ‘picture starter.’ This is why he enjoys his work in education, to be given the opportunity to spark ideas in someone else’s mind. Many more ideas for work come and go and are lost somewhere between the spark of an idea and the studio door. They never find their way into the gallery, house or art fair. The exchange of thought through his art is what inspires him to communicate with it. Whilst always able to start something new, Rainham finds deciding when and how a picture becomes ‘finished’ the hard part.
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