Onyx started off as an attempt to capture the colours and textures of a snowbank that had gravel embedded in it on a late afternoon in winter. I was fascinated by the textures and the way the particular blue/black seemed to glow against the white of the snow and create its own mist.
The first layer contains clay, glue and iron ore along with thinned Paynes grey oil paint. I used a spray bottle to defuse the paint and give it the feeling of melting into the white. After working on this layer for a few days, I let the paint dry and began to spray the iron ore with ammonia chloride which began the rusting process that you can see peeking out here and there. Three weeks on, after playing freely with capturing the feeling of melting snow piles, I began to look for a horse.
I work in themes and at that point, I was exploring the concept as well as the physicality of horses. I use a photograph to inspire and using charcoal I drawing directly onto the painted canvas. I then let go of the photo and see where the textures and colours that are already there direct me. It is a process of being completely involved in the moment and stepping back and in my case sitting on a chair staring at my work until it tells me where to go next.
I titled this piece “Onyx” because onyx is a mineral that the Romans carved into amulets that they wore into battle. It is supposed to bring strength, courage and direction to the wearer-- I needed these qualities in my life at that time and the horse in the painting says that to me.
- Soleil Mannion