‘Tango in the Square’ is the first of a series of smaller to medium sized paintings I began working last year. The aim of the series, of which I work on at least one painting every month, was based primarily on a simple narrative set in a colourful City / Town Centre setting. While I paint a variety of subjects including figurative, Cityscape, Sci Fi and landscape, I am often inspired to create works of art that conjure up a romantic image, often including a couple at the focus of the composition against a colourful backdrop of warm colours. The focus of the composition for Tango in the Square was primarily a couple dancing Argentine Tango, with a secondary emphasis on the background. With this in mind I had to be careful not to ‘overwork’ the details of the scenery, otherwise the focus would be lost on the figures and the eye would wander aimlessly around the canvas.
As with any painting I first sketch out in pencil on paper to ascertain the tonal values and make sure the composition works. It is at this stage any changes are made before beginning working on the canvas. I regularly work on a twenty inch squared format which makes for a nice sized painting, particularly when framed. The deep edged canvas I use in this size can also be hung without a frame and displays equally well. I use an Artist quality canvas and first begin with two coats of primer, before laying down a tonal underpainting in black, white and grey. I like a painting to look like a painting, not a photograph; therefore I build up the texture using several layers to ensure the hues are dominant in the final layer. It is important the brighter colours such as red and yellow are under painted brightly so they remain strong. When painting in acrylics, I use undiluted paint to achieve an oil like consistency allowing visible brushstrokes in the finished painting. When the painting is complete I allow it to dry thoroughly before applying two coats of matt varnish to protect the art work. Naturally this is much quicker when working in acrylics as the paint dries extremely quickly.
It is normally after the painting is complete that I think of a title; as I was already a planning a second sequel painting the idea of ‘Tango in the Square’ seemed perfect.
While I regularly paint Cityscape formats, for me the inclusion of figures makes the subject much more interesting, and Tango in the Square was a pleasure to paint.
See more artwork by: Mark Haywood