I became aware of Tony Bevan some years ago and was aware that he uses charcoal as one of the main mediums in his work. The essays in the book by Toman and Sinclair- Wilson give some good insights to his working practices, so I spent some time investigating how he uses the charcoal.
p.26 ‘Bevan paints on the floor’. Thus the pigments do not run, rather they collect, accumulate and congregate into the very image they produce’.
p.54 ‘Bevan literally works inside his work, leaving traces of his knees and hands visible on the canvas or paper’.
p.54 ‘I call that the debris of the making. The charcoal gets locked into that. There is no mystery how the material got there. The process, the debris, is important to me’.
p.60 Much of his preferred medium for many years, whether on paper or canvas, has been charcoal, which he selects carefully for its friability, texture and the timbre of its hue, according to the wood from which it comes, whether it old vine wood, willow, linden, poplar, or some other. His vigorous use of it often causes it to fracture and crumble, the resulting shards and dust becoming aleatoric but vital elements of the work.- a materiality and an unpredictability that brings such electricity to the image’.
Before reading this I was not really aware that you could make charcoal from other types of wood, but what I gained most how he uses acrylic medium with the charcoal on his canvases. This is what I wanted to explore a little more and tried out some experiments in my sketchbook. I have also been trying out the inks I have made on a surface prepared with acrylic gesso and paper. And having Gum Arabic with the inks I wanted to try this out with the charcoal. Through these initial experiments I felt the inks do make some interesting marks and textures on both the painted surface and on paper. I found the charcoal with acrylic medium gave what felt like quite a harsh resulting surface- perhaps I need to experiment a bit further. I did, however quite like how the charcoal worked with the Gum Arabic- there was softness to it- perhaps something of an emotional response? –I will probably experiment further with all of these.
Klaus, Toman and Sinclair-Wilson, Jonathan (2005) Tony Bevan: a retrospective view of his paintings. Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia.