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On the cusp...

As I didn’t get round to posting a blog last week, I’m hoping this one will make up for it. I’ve begun working on my large canvases over the past few weeks and I feel as though I’m on the cusp of something really strong and great. Exploration, lots and lots of exploring is taking place, both in my sketchbook and on the canvas. Below is a set of images showing the various stages in which my first canvas has gone through recently. This painting doesn’t feel close to being finished yet but it does feel as though I’ve stumbled across something exciting.

Untitled, 4 images of the painting in different stages, 5' x 5', Oil on Canvas, 2021

(Apologies for poor image quality)

As you can see, I’ve built this painting up layer by layer and as a result have arguably lost some of that freshness that it had to begin with, which is a shame, but not the end of the world. I watched a BBC iPlayer documentary this week, which I highly recommend, about the artist John Hoyland; whilst his personality is a bit ‘up his own’, his approach to painting is refreshing and exciting. He would confidently build up his paintings layer by layer, often in rapid succession, thanks to the quick drying time of acrylic paint. Whilst I prefer oil paints and the contemplation time it allows me thanks to the slow drying time; I relate to his methodology of not being afraid to loose what has come before. Arguably, image 2 is a refreshing and lively representation of a landscape, as nice as that was it was not what I wanted to portray. I’m not trying to paint a representational landscape, I want to capture an essence of that place, the sensations felt as well as fragments of my memories of that specific location.

It’s funny, looking back on my previous blog post, ‘I think I get it’, I feel that some of my comments made don’t necessarily apply to me anymore. Or perhaps they still apply but in different ways? First off, I still don’t think my paintings are about landscape, yes, they might be influenced by a remembered landscape or my surroundings but the methodology behind the work isn’t directly related to the land. Take this painting above, I began with a gestural depiction of a remembered place, with significance to myself, but whilst I was painting, I was trying to get away from that landscape composition and capture my emotional response to the location instead. Having said that I don’t feel comfortable to sit here and say that I achieved this.

I see myself painting over a fair part of this particular canvas in the future and almost starting with a fresh slate but for now I’m going to let it sit for a few weeks and see if I’m struck with what it needs next. Whilst some might see this work as a failure, I see it is an exploration. My ideas towards my paintings and what they are about has drastically changed, I feel surer about my work and myself and am excited to continue developing my newly found ideas, all thanks to this ‘failed’ painting.

Below is my latest work in progress, I painted the majority of this today. As you can hopefully see, my approach to this painting is the opposite to that of the previous work. I’m beginning with these large blocks of colour and am aiming to have my shapes overlapping instead of interlocking. To create depth within my work I need the layers to interact with one another and overlap. Where in the previous painting they felt as though they were interacting with one another but were only interlocking. Which resulted in a flat image. Whilst this painting has got a long way to go and is in the very early stages of its life, I’m itching to get stuck into it and see what this painting has to offer me.

Untitled work in progress, 5' x 5', Oil on Canvas, 2021

So, what am I really trying to say through my art? I am currently exploring movement, place and self, how we move through a landscape, how I move around the canvas, how does place affect oneself and others. Space being both in physical and mental terms, possibly blurring the line between the two. A trio, a memory, the remembering the memory and the act of responding to the memory.

Now that was a bit of a brain dump but I’m hoping that in the weeks to come, after focussing some time on my dissertation, that I will be able to take all of this and comments made in previous blog posts and combine them into a cohesive paragraph or two…

Loads of exciting stuff happening, I’m going to be taking a step back from painting over the next few weeks to allow myself some time on my dissertation as well as focus my creative energy into some large gestural and intuitive drawings in ink and charcoal. I've been given the green light to return safely to Aber at the start of april so need to allow drying time for my current paintings. I hope everyone has a nice easter and stays safe, will keep you all updated on my next creative endeavours.

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