Artist's Materials

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The Hugh Lane team unearthed some two thousand samples of Bacon's painting materials  in his studio. These include hundreds of used paint tubes, jars of loose pigment, paintbrushes, utensils, tin cans, sticks of pastel, pieces of fabric, empty bottles of turpentine, cans of spray paint and of fixative, tins of household paint and countless roller sponges. No artist's palette was found in the studio and the artist appears to have used just about anything he could find as a substitute. Even the walls of the studio itself were used to mix and test paints. From early on in his artistic career, Bacon tried out various materials in his paintings including aerosol cans of car paint, sand, pastel, dust and cotton wool. He also appears to have applied paint with the plastic lids from paint tubes and the open ends of bottles found in the studio.

Several pairs of thick corduroy trousers were found in the studio. Many of these were cut up into pieces, which Bacon used to pattern his paintings. The imprint of corduroy is evident in many of his paintings, including Study for Portrait of John Edwards, 1989. Imprints from corduroy are also evident on the door of the Reece Mews studio suggesting that Bacon applied paint to the door, printed the corduroy and then applied it to the canvas. Bacon also used cashmere sweaters ribbed socks and cotton flannels to similar effect. Three towelling dressing gowns were also found in the studio. It is possible that Bacon used these to print onto canvas also.

Cut-out arrows are amongst the surprise discoveries in Bacon's studio. The thick deposits of paint on both sides of these arrows suggest that Bacon used these either to paint around or else to imprint the shape of an arrow directly onto the canvas. Two cut-out heads of George Dyer, one in colour and one in black and white have been found in the studio. Due to the presence of a number of pin holes in these items and the paint around the outlines, it seems likely that they were used to trace the profile on to the canvas.