Aldo Balding is an artist whose work seeks to harness time, space and movement in the permanence of figurative oil painting. His Jackson’s Open Painting Prize shortlisted ‘Moment, Time, Space’ is exemplary of his practice, depicting a splicing of several snapshots of a lady putting on her coat in a café. The dynamic movement of those few fleeting seconds are immortalised in paint that, of itself, is used in a way that heightens its own elusive, fragile nature, with passages of solid rich paint contrasting with dilute spills and fragmented mark-making. In this interview Aldo explains how he uses photographic source material, his choice of materials, and delves deeper into what his work is about.
Lisa: Your website suggests that the subjects for your paintings are staged, rather than you painting a chance happening from direct observation or from a photo. Is this the case with your shortlisted work ‘Moment Time Space’?
Aldo: The painting moment, space time was serendipity, it is based on a series of photos that I took by chance. It doesn’t happen often like that, as there are too many variables. I do pose models, but not on this occasion. I had the idea of the same person who is putting on her coat, appearing as in a time lapse, in fact there are two characters in this time lapse scenario.
Lisa: I’m really interested in your very limited palettes… which colours did you paint ‘Moment Time Space with’?
Aldo: I used Ivory Black, Yellow Ochre, Cad Red, Alizarin Crimson, Lemon Yellow and ultramarine Blue. It is predominantly muted greens against a warm grey. Obviously it is easier to find harmonies with fewer colours.
Lisa: You achieve a beautiful freshness with your brushwork. How do you stop yourself from overworking a painting and losing the energy?
Aldo: I have to discipline myself not to overwork things, I paint from a distance. When I get close to the canvas the temptation to fiddle is there. If it looks right from 2 metres, I leave it alone.
Lisa: Can you tell me a little bit about the impact of scale in your work too – are all your paintings generally the same size or do you paint a mix of large and small paintings? Does painting a large painting pose a different set of problems to painting a smaller work?
Aldo: Painting large feels liberating, I use larger brushes, again if it looks convincing from distance I leave it. I do paint all sizes, smaller studies and paintings need smaller brushes, however, I feel painting with small brushes limiting. Larger paintings do have more of an impact by their sheer scale, they can be seen from across the gallery straight away.
Lisa: What are your favourite brushes to use?
Aldo: I use Rosemary’s brushes, long flat mongooses series 279 and hogs filberts. I often have a 2 inch household brush or some old worn one that makes interesting marks for texture and the others for the more finished areas.
Lisa: How important is the quality of the photograph that you work from?
Aldo: It is more important that the colours and values are accurate when working from photos. The details are of less importance, I don’t try to paint them. I am aware of pitfalls of photos regarding values, so I take that into account when painting with photo references.
Lisa: How often do you get to paint?
Aldo: I paint 5-6 days a week normally.
Lisa: How much do you think about where your painting will hang, or who your audience might be, while you are painting?
Aldo: It never enters my head where it will hang or what audience it may have. I am totally involved in the creating process . I occasionally think it is or isn’t saleable, but that isn’t an aesthetic thought.
Lisa: Do you ever struggle for ideas for paintings? If so how do you overcome this?
Aldo: I do have to work for ideas, they are things that I have seen and I have to be open to theses stimuli, sometimes I will try and look at it from a different perspective, I am a tonalist painter that uses shape in my compositions, so for example looking for pattern composition or colour instead. I may just end up painting something and go through the creative process and the problem solving as I go and see what I can make of it.
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
Aldo: I have galleries in Bristol and Long Melford, both are the Lime tree gallery and Thompson’s in London. In France Anagama in Versailles, and Galerie en Ré in Bois – Colombes, my studio near Carcassonne. Christopher Moller in Cape Town and Waterhouse Gallery in Santa Barbara.
Header image:’Refractaire’ by Aldo Balding, oil on canvas, 76 x 60 cm