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…
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??)
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. 😉
One of the areas I’ve struggled with lately has been documenting my work with sufficient quality that they can be used for exhibition submissions or even just a decent photo for instagram. In order to address this I’ve taken the plunge and bought a decent camera (Olympus OM-D E-M10 for those interested in such things), tripod and lighting system. The camera itself is lovely, but there’ll be a bit of a learning curve while I figure out all the settings; something as basic as taking a picture wasn’t;t straight forward.
Already though, I can see the benefits of this setup. Below you’ll see two images – the top one was taken with natural light, the bottom image was taken using the studio lighting rig I recently acquired. You can see that the studio lighting gives a richer, sharper and more faithful rendering of the colours I see in the studio. The colours aren’t perfect, but I’m sure once I’ve gotten used the myriad settings on the camera these colours will be very representative of reality.
This photo was taken with natural light.
This photo was taken with studio lighting.
Colour + Movement; Colour-field+Line.
… This is the Holy Grail that I seek.
For the past few weeks I’ve been experiencing one of those dips in confidence and focus that most artists experience from time to time. It’s a fairly regular thing for me. I think the biggest problem I was facing was that I’ve been producing a lot of investigative sketches, which although meaningful and sometimes beautiful, the activity was not leading towards a sharpening of focus in the studio paintings. This past week however, I’ve been enjoying a week off the day-job, allowing me the time and head-space to consider my practice as a whole. Thankfully, all those months of investigatory sketches has not been in vain – I have managed to make sense of it all and now do have a clear(er) direction in the studio. Less ‘slap-dash’ or ‘casualist’ than previous work, but maintaining a freedom and painterliness.
It’s early days yet, but at least I feel positive.