I hesitate to say this as it seems that I have many such crests of a creative wave, but… I think I’ve finally begun to find a method of working in the studio that is bearing fruit – particularly on the larger (for me) paintings. This is an area of my practice that has experienced many false dawns, but I’ve stuck at it. I’ve continued to throw paint at the problem.
One of the biggest hurdles has been my inability or unwillingness to move away from the starkly simple methodology – that of representing the complexity of nature with as few marks as possible. This approach works well on a small scale, but when I’ve attempted to go bigger, the slapdash simplicity has left me emotionally distant. I had adopted the process as a philosophy as I felt it gave me a freedom to express myself and owed nothing to conformity, but, ironically I had become shackled to to the cause.
After much soul searching I finally gave myself a slap. My only real philosophy for painting is to follow my instincts, even if it flies in the face of what’s worked before. So I began playing around with paint – creating complex colour arrangements and exploring the physicality of the process – daubing, scraping, drawing – sculpting form out of the chaos.
Watch this space to sample the results…
Painting is, more often than not, a constant stream of frustrations. I’ve been working on a few larger paintings lately (I’ll call it a ‘series’ but the process if far too haphazard and their relationships flimsy for that) and have felt nothing but frustration. Using an inordinate amount of paint, adding and adding and reworking until I’ve absolutely no idea why I bang painting them in the first place.
Today though, I returned to a few smaller canvases and produced a painting using very simple and direct marks that actually meant something to me. No frustrations – I was sure of my intentions and carried them out. Why don’t/can’t I do this with the larger paintings? Self-imposed pressure, that’s why. Lesson learned (for now.) Keep It Simple (Stupid?)
I’ve been doing a lot of pondering lately. More thinking than doing. Sometimes I have emotional dips, or a period of self doubt that stops me from making work, but this is different. I’m not painting, I’m thinking – mulling. It’s not a block as such, but a period of reflection and an attempt to position myself within the context of contemporary painting.
The paintings that I produce are not like many other painters’ work. I know this. This period of reflection is a conscious evaluation of what makes me ME and to somehow embrace that uniqueness as a celebration of those differences that separates me from other painters.
I’ve spent a few hours in the studio today – coming off the back of a bit of low point creatively. It’s been a good day on the whole.
My painting method demands a level of focus and fairly confident risk-taking, and that’s really hard to sustain – especially when it doesn’t work. More often than not, it doesn’t work. I rise from these low points sooner or later and usually I have a slightly new perspective on what I’m trying to do. The latest ‘enlightenment’ is to embrace the rhythms of the sea and the landscape. Colours, textures, form have occupied my focus previously, but something’s always been missing (well, not always – I have managed to make a few decent paintings) and that something is a kind of life/rhythm. I’ve been aware of these rhythms, but have been interpreting them as energy/life-force, but there’s something subtly different about my application when I interpret the landscape in terms of its rhythm and, for now, this slight shift has led to another (small) step to a truth.
testing… (what d’ya mean this is the most interesting post??)
The original purpose of this blog was not to be a blog at all. Talking Painting was to feature a series of artists studio visits, on video and featuring artists’ talking about their work. Very casual, very intimate and hopefully, very interesting. Alas, after a couple of false starts (that’s all it takes for me to lose heart, I too am an artist after all; somewhat fragile) I abandoned the idea of studio visits and, although very briefly toyed with the idea of lapsing into a pro-forma style interview with artists, which has been done many times before, I decided to utilise this web address for the purposes of a blog. Domain names aren’t quite cheap enough to leave dormant, so at least this was a use for it. The blog would be for personal use – although, being sat on the world wide web and viewable by 7 billion people (in theory,) but in reality, one that I was painfully aware of, was that it would be very unlikely that visitors would arrive accidentally. If they did, they would be presented with snippets of what’s been going on in my head lately and would probably not return.
As we (I) move forward, I am considering dedicating this space to critical overviews of exhibitions that I am able to visit. Perhaps I’ll even drag up memories of exhibitions-past and attempt to evoke them with a sense of currentness.
Small paintings offer, at best, a window into my world. Larger paintings can physically situate the viewer in that world, but brings with it a whole set of logistical problems in their production. A very different beast indeed. Whatever pains I’ve gone to to build a method of translating the world around me into painterly marks on an intimate scale, the process almost has to begin again in its entirety in order to translate my world into a larger and more enveloping scale. This is something I’m keen to do, however…so will strive to do so.
I was perusing the Artsy website the other day and came across their synopsis of Raoul De Keyser. Amongst the usual spiel were the words, “…and the ability of simple gestures to communicate strong emotion.” ‘Wow,’ I thought, that reads so true for what I’m trying to do. I’ll steal that 😉
[Update] Scratch all that (below) – it was a (yet another) false start. Nice idea though and something that I will no doubt revisit many times over the next few years…
I’ve recently been exploring a new subject. At the bottom of my street there’s a fairly busy shipping port that features industrial cages, ships and generally a very structural spectacle. I’ve found myself in the studio bogged down with these details; for someone usually free and simple with his painting, the challenge of representing these structures is really interesting. One surprising upshot though is that I’ve found myself producing a side-line of paintings that revert to simplicity. ‘Negative Space’ works that are very simple one-shot-deal depictions of everyday objects. Images to follow if I manage to produce more than one successfully. 😉