The page has posts relating to general comments about the work in this term (Unit 3). Aims, ruminations and reflective reportage.
This blog entry focuses on painting development over Unit 3. I aim here to be more experimental in my approach. The theme for this study block is ‘aesthetics of emergence’. How can I use it in creative and expansive ways? Where will it take the work? How can it be used to interpret folk horror?
How is it that everything always seems to be a beginning? This seems on the surface to be a thing of anxiety, however considering this pervasive sense more closely reveals something more positive…while anxiety is part of this, it is also instrumental to project oneself into the future. As 2023 dawns on us, with all those looming problems of, and arising from, ecology and economy, that sense of beginning is important – without it, all that remains is an un-ecstatic, heavy-footed stasis. So in the spirit of yet another beginning, a reiteration of intentions regarding painting!
Who sits at my side in terms of painting for this new phase of work? I’ve hovered around this question so many times. But now, with a bundle of sheds strewn around the studio floor, who am I looking to for inspiration and aspiration? Not the tonalists so much useful as that research was and even though their skies speak volumes, I come back to three artists who marry figurative, a sense of velvety depth (through glazing), and ingenious mark making: Velasquez, Rembrandt & Nedrum. There is a realism to their figurations, but also a sense of releasing something explosive in the paint itself, rather than marshalling it into a neat and tidy polished surface (Wyeth, Holbein). A present I seem to have separate work that is the former (often with the more illustrative work) or the latter, but rarely do they appear in the same camp.
But where are my contemporary sources in painting? Kiki Smith in terms of creative making, but in terms of painting? To help free up and make more emergent, I’m looking at the work of a) Rex Whistler and b) David Tress. It is therefore my intention to bring these to bear on my current shed work but also to the painting-based figure work that I intend to start in a couple of weeks.
As an emblem of where I am going with this..this particular shed seems to herald a shift; one of the many exploratory sheds of late. This shed has a ‘right’ atmosphere suited to my Folk Horror theme, and was made in layers to achieve depth but still looks spontaneous, however. Now, do I then replicate the technique with other sheds…or is it just something that emerges…will the work that comes from that just feel like mechanical copies? We’ll see…
15/01/23 Some activities in train regarding self-promotion, and reaching audiences. Entered competitions (RA Summer & Jacksons’ Prize), entered for St Ives Society of Artists, and also applied for Open Studios for June. Heard back from SISA – over 60 artists entered for 5 places, I wasn’t one of them – it was an outside chance. I put in 6 pieces of work that were perhaps too quirky or not really related to one another. Feedback will be sought to help any subsequent entries. All this being judged! never comfortable. My defensive stance is that these things are a bit like roulette, particularly when a committee is involved. When it comes down to it, it’s just you and the material you working with 🙂
The focus of this unit’s work has been rather split between dissemination and making work. To keep up the momentum and to help widen the visual vocabulary of the painting, I spent three days on a workshop focused on light and landscape, tutored by Tom Rickman – a painter with a very subtle and nuanced approach to colour. The work I produced was rather hesitant as it was a very different approach to what I’ve been using for the Turneresque work. Smaller, more about colour mixing than form and expression. Here are a few images from the workshop.
The process was on blocks of colour, graduation and on a very light palette (I’m very sure I wasn’t sufficiently light with my greys). Thick paint laid on in a very deliberate and considered rather than thinly layered paint that exploits serendipity were the main points of departure from the work I’ve been doing. I think that I can see ways of marrying the two approaches, but need as ever more practice with mixing greys and laying down paint to get that amazing ‘flickering’ of light when you feather one colour over another that I’m very taken with. I am keen to get more light into the larger landscapes as part of my ‘folk horror’ concern for animism and the power/force energy of light and its effect on form.
I am very much going towards energy, animism and physical forces in my thinking and work now. It’s moving away then from the iconography of pop culture genre to something that might be regarded as more poetic. I am still interested in the hidden forces that govern matter – vaporous matter or more solid varieties. This is what the doll’s house work has taught me.
On Thursday last (13/04/23) I gave a public artist talk at the NSA show about the dolls house and that talk consolidated my sense that the work is now very much about movement & light and the things that drive them, as well as the ways we as human beings interpret those things through emotion and words. Given the gap between human understanding and the materiality of these ‘occulted’ forces, is a form of hauntology – a gap that informs ideas like the sublime and indeed the place that breeds myths as putative methods intended to fill the gap of human knowledge and understanding. This is the place of folk horror as I am making it, and as Turner, Courbet and Wyeth and others seem preoccupied with.
viz Turner & the sublime. The 18th century and its enlightenment created then the negative space that is generative of the gothic and the sublime, alchemy was still present within all that natural ‘science’ experimentation. Our mysteries seem similarly born in some ways, AI and machine learning, quantum physics and physical modelling, producing our gods and monsters – our wonder and awe – a sense of human ingenuity and madness, of the abyss.