Ray Duncan

Series Seven
Q and A:

Tell us a little bit about your work Series Seven that’s on show in the Gallery?

My paintings work with the idea of a ‘colour field’ where the viewer is immersed in the picture plane. There is often still a faint reference back to the landscape and to the sky. Although its very much about mood and atmosphere rather than a specific place.

Can you tell us about this painting in particular?

In this painting the starting point came from a piece of painted out graffiti, which you see a lot in Belfast. I started to get interested in the shapes that occur when this happens.

In terms of a painting process, which is important for the work I use intuition and chance, with the final format of the painting not decided until the end. This can involve major alterations as I go along. Its often hard to decide whether the final canvas should be horizontal or vertical and I can even end up turning it completely upside down. Sometimes it's a feeling I have that drives me to use a particular colour or it can be as simple as being excited about trying out a new paint.

The foreground shapes are painted first as a vague outline. The background itself is a mixture of the colours in the foreground shapes. In the background there is also the suggestion of shapes through subtle variations in tonality. I am interested in, for instance, how a blue comes out of a darker background. How other shapes sink into the background.

How long does it take you to paint on of these canvases?

The initial painting is ‘quite quick’ about eight hours, with further painting over the week during which changes are made. Sometimes a painting will sit for a month before finally being finished. There is a degree of calculation balanced against spontaneity. The paint is applied quite quickly, there is a certain practicality that comes into play, a big area needs a big brush. Sometimes the painting tells me what to do!

How do you know when to stop?

I know when the paintings finished when everything’s in its place, when there is nothing that doesn’t fit. It's a balance of shapes and colours. The painting has a wholeness that feels right.