My “centre” is light, and I’ve decided that looking more closely at the projects I’ve been working through this year. As I engaged with more topics, and techniques, and research, I noticed a pattern. I would either start with a topic which was loosely related to light, or I would slowly peel away from my topic to revisit light in some way. So, rather fittingly, my Final Major Project is in a way, the first project where I actually know my “centre”, my “thing”. It’s a summary of everything I’ve done in the past year and how it’s shaped me as an art student.
Perhaps my biggest tangent I’ve been on, a fascination which effectively spanned 3 projects, is “The Sublime”. This is something which I have only really discovered this year, with the help of numerous books and artists more knowledgeable than me, and it’s been a crucial stepping stone to realising my integral fascination with light itself, which is really a more fundamental aspect of the sublime, at least for me.
What I mean by that is that all the stimuli I’ve witnessed which I would describe as “sublime” focus heavily on light, so really its the light I’m fascinated in, not necessarily the grandeur or the size or the overwhelming feeling of insignificance. And I suppose that’s a relief, because I always thought my approach to art was a bit subtler than the big, powerful, exaggerated images from Romantic times.
So in an effort to simplify it and strip it down, something which I consistently find to be the hardest thing to do in art, I’m focusing on light. And that’s it. I’ve been out taking a ludicrous amount of photos, capturing different lights at different times, then going back to the studio and seeing how I can capture it with paint. As it usually does for me, my paintings started off crude and gradually became more “lyrical” (my tutors words, not mine, but I like it) and eventually I started to develop my own gesture, using under-painting and stripping away layers of paint. It was round about this time that I thought that the classic “sublime” concept of the sun, power, and overwhelming sensation needed tweaking so I wrote this statement to summarise my plan:
I am trying to represent the power of nature, but not the obvious sublime power of the sun, wind, and light. I want to visualise the hidden, silent resilience, which resides in all aspects of nature. A sublime light we can’t necessarily see.
This is just a quieter sublime in my opinion, a subtler one, and one which is a bit more appreciative of the smaller aspects of nature. Trees, rocks, small clearings and passages, not necessarily huge mountains and waterfalls and valleys stretching off into the distance. So this is where I am right now – looking at the smaller things, and the wonder they hold, and visualising the light I imagine to be within them. I’m refining my technique and experimenting with new ways to paint it, because either way you slice it it’s still a well worn path in painting, and I need to find a niche.
In an effort to find my own angle on a very well saturated part of the painting canon, I started playing around with how real, visible light could affect my paintings and change their effect on the viewer. Because of the way I painted the landscapes, using plain turpentine to dissolve away layers of paint, these thin areas let more light through, imbuing these areas with a vibrant glow. It’s an effect which would be, to my knowledge, impossible if not pretty damn difficult to represent with painting, because it illuminates how the layers overlap, and the brush strokes, and it tests the line between a painting and an installation. Ooo I just came up with that on the spot and I like that description.
More experiments needed!
Images below are of the “Sleepy Common” painting, and the titles refer to how I backlit it in that instance.
oil on paper
My God I think this could be my longest post. How is it this easy to write so much on WordPress and not in an essay…