A tiny detail of an painting finished a wee while ago a way back in July – As time passes, so the memories fade – mixed media on card, 2017
My work has taken quite a dramatic change of direction this past couple of years. As I look at the images here on my website to my embarrassment most of them are from a couple of years ago at least. It is most obvious my development when looking at these pages and the contrast with the work I have been sharing here in my blog posts. Time has stood still on the gallery pages here – meanwhile my actual artwork and paintings have changed beyond all recognition. It is interesting to note though that there are many overlaps and themes and inspiration.
My neglected website and portfolio is soon to get a much needed re-design and complete overhaul. I am gradually learning that I cannot do everything myself. This is not a whiny post but one that is representative of many of the struggles of the solo-self-employed. I feel like I lean towards the extreme in my inability to not be able to tackle everything but I am sure my experiences are common to many. Years spent struggling to paint, create, teach, create online courses, be my own accountant, manager and designer, tea maker, blog writer and cheer leader means that many things have consistently fallen to the bottom of the list. Unfortunately making sure my images and information here in this space was up to date and a representation of my current practice is one of the many things that just did not get done.
So I am delighted that after all the work that went into redesigning and organising my Art School website (which was a huge task completed by the brilliant Artists Ally) now our attentions can turn to here – the place that represents my own art and the work that I put into the world as a Fine Artist. So whilst the older images here on this site will soon be disappearing to make way for my most recent work it is interesting led me to thinking about the changes from then till now. I have been pondering the development of my work and practice and the experience of being an artist who feels like I am re-inventing my self over and over again (but with some consistencies – thank goodness).
A painting I finished just last week – this one changed dramatically from where it was at this stage
(I will share the process of the paintings here in future posts)
Studio Notes – September 2017
I have frequently been thinking about the more abstract/intuitive work created recently as opposed to the more representational work from the past. I am not sure if it is just that I have put the particular challenges of creating portraits or narrative work out of my mind but I am feeling that there is a longer period of doubt and struggle with the current work. That is not a bad thing. The struggle of painting is the thing that stokes the fire and energises me to keep going even when it is all going wrong.
It is those challenges that keep me fascinated by the process and ensures I keep coming back for more. Perhaps it is because at the moment this work and its development all feels quite new. Despite the fact that I have worked more abstractly at various points in the past, I am still going through a huge learning curve. However there is definitely a sense of questioning whether something is ‘right’ or if it works that is altogether more clear for me when I am trying to make a painting look like a certain ‘thing’ – a portrait or a recognisable landscape for example. It is more obvious when an object or a place or a face has certain proportions or there is a likeness or a sense of realism or emotion.
With the current pieces I am working on it is more to do with a gut feeling than any other work I have previously made. And in that sense it feels like the most challenging to get right. There is definitely a sense for some that abstract or intuitive art is ‘easier’. I am sure I thought that too … once upon a time. It also, for me brings up questions about the difference between abstract work that is purely decorative and abstract art that provokes an emotional response for I do respond to each in different ways.
An artist might have gone through deep emotional ups and downs in the creation of a piece of work and have a very clear idea of the emotional intent behind the work. But it is another thing entirely as to whether that emotion transmits to the viewer. Whether they will read it or be able to translate it at all. Of course, they are free to have their own entirely unique experience of the work. As I enjoy the connection between artist and viewer though, it is natural to assume or hope that at least some of what the artist is trying to say will come across.
Is this easier with a portrait for example, where the emotion can be clearly articulated or a narrative gently implied? In abstract/intuitive work how does the artist even begin to communicate a certain emotion or story? Of course colours and composition and mark making will all play a part along with other elements. A face or a figure or a recognisable component can act as a hook to draw the viewer in and illustrate common ground through which to initiate a conversation. A figure can be used as a starting point on which to hang stories and emotions and clues as to what the artist is trying to say. I guess I am trying to find a similar connection but in way that is not so literal.
A work in progress currently on my easel – getting there with this one I think
So with all of this – my ongoing search is to find ways of digging deep and working on these paintings that will take them beyond the realms of decoration. To use colour and texture, composition and energy to give a sense of all the elements that have inspired them, not in terms of realistic depictions or descriptions but by relying on my gut and my own response to each piece – even if I have to paint and destroy over and over till I get there.
A few months ago I began writing Studio Notes at the end of my painting days as a way to record my struggles and breakthroughs and gain a greater insight into my practice. These are unedited extracts from some of these pages. They are at times irritable and whiny and other times descriptive and revelatory but they are always honest.
I hope you enjoy them.