I started painting figures on objects as an experiment to see if these might not be looked at more closely than something in a frame.

Since the advent of photography, paintings have had to compete with other images for our attention. I started painting figures on objects as an experiment to see if these might not be looked at more closely and for longer than if they had been on a canvas, framed and on a wall. I soon discovered that different characteristics of the objects – their significance, their associations, as well as their colours and textures, worked together with the painted figure in surprising ways. Often there could be an immediate connection between the figure and the surface I had painted it on: cyclists painted on a map seemed to be heading for the beach and sea; a boy at an easel painted on a yellow brush appeared to be working in brilliant sunshine

My work is almost entirely figurative but I also realise that I have had a lifelong problem with backgrounds. In some earlier charcoal pieces I set silhouetted dynamic figures on a clean white paper background. In other painted images swimmers, divers and athletes were superimposed on to acrylic textured backgrounds – the figures almost always responding in unexpected ways to their new settings. From this I moved onto figures painted on collaged surfaces and so painting on objects seems to be a natural development.

Damian Callan is a practising figurative painter based in Edinburgh. He teaches drawing and painting classes for adults and art classes for children at his studio near Haymarket. In the spring and summer he runs landscape painting courses in and around Edinburgh. He is the author of two books, Paint Like Degas and Paint Like Renoir. His work is exhibited widely in the UK and is held in collections across the world. He has written articles for Artist & Illustrators Magazine and The Artist Magazine and regularly demonstrates drawing and painting techniques at public events in Edinburgh.


Event Details

Date: May 2 - June 11
Time: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm

Granton Station
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Damian Callan