“Northern American Satellite III”

Building on representing humanity’s insistence on juxtaposing a grid onto the organic natural landscape, I’ve been in the print room experimenting with some lino cuts. The fact that the subject of the work lies purely in the shape not the tone meant that a two tone lino cut is perfect for displaying that in isolation. Also, since lino tiles lend themselves very well to geometric, straight, simple shapes, it translates very well into this medium.

 

 

 

“Satellite I Composition”

This piece developed from a preliminary sketch for a potentially larger piece on canvas, but I decided that pastel worked really well for this particular style of work, a detailed style I don’t usually go for. I’ve been gathering satellite imagery from google maps, after noticing the strong tension between the urban grid and the chaotic natural shapes. The shapes involved in some of the North American images (this piece uses formal qualities from both Utah and Nebraska) are very similar to visual elements in a lot of modernist abstract works.

It’s interesting that these “ready-made” (I flinch at that) compositions are created but unknown in their entirety to the human race, and that irony drew me in. A lot of the work I’ve been doing has been solely revolving around nature in its own right, but these images focus strongly on humanities relationship to natures chaotic quality. Namely, man’s tendency to try and squash everything into straight lines, so really if there’s one thing this piece displays it’s the one-upmanship between humans and planet Earth.

 

Obliteration Landscape Miniature – *WIP*

I wanted to do a post before I head back to uni, because this painting that I’ve started over the holidays has proved very helpful for understanding my own methodology.

As are most of my pieces, this was a working composition and colour scheme, this latest stage being achieved largely by trial and error and learning “on the canvas”. I began by working towards a naturalistic colour scheme ie blue sky, grey stone, but it’s near on impossible to portray invisible forces when I’m tuned into the visible and mundane. So I painted over everything with a translucent brown glaze, and further darkened some areas. This served to compress the range of luminosity and give me more room to maneuver, whilst making my previous marks useful as an underpainting. From then on I have largely ignored the natural colours.

Through this painting alone I have discovered several important things that I can apply to my new direction:

  • I unfailingly paint too light too quickly, but darkening the scene with glazes remedies this.
  • I am not interested in naturalistic colour schemes. Whilst the basis may be natural, it is the invisible forces like chaos and chance that fascinates me, so I will dispense with my concern with the visible.
  • I paint better as soon as I forget to care about why I am painting in what way.
  • Learning whilst doing is more valuable than a sketchbook.

G’day

Cartesian Landscape – Pre-Obliteration

The undisturbed image is now complete, and it hasn’t come easy at all. It’s been a working painting in many ways, having been revised several times already, and this is just the context. I’m pulling in new influences, most notably Peter Doig and Adrian Ghenie, and learning through trial and error the best way to approach the layering. I don’t have a linear, ordered way of thinking – it’s more like a series of impulses in reaction to opportunities, so this was incredibly difficult for me. It’s a successful painting in itself, but just painting landscapes is so incredibly bland, and even with the “chaos characters” I’m going to introduce tomorrow, I sometimes find myself doubting it’s relevance in the contemporary sphere.

Cartesian Plains – Granite Mountains *WIP*

 

I’ve been working on a very large canvas recently, and after finding out the process wasn’t really lending itself very well to my aims, I switched it up and decided to work on board instead whilst the canvas is drying.
What I’m looking for is a way of cutting away the layers to reveal the light underneath, something which I cannot do if I put down a mid-tone colour base on a canvas using oil paint. So instead I primed a MDF board and coated it in white oil-based eggshell paint, meaning I can peel back the layers on top to get the light back – a process which worked very well in my drawing work.

Something which I’ve had input on is that I resolve my work too quickly, and by doing so I don’t give them room to develop through layers. That’s something I’m really trying to focus on with this piece, and probably with the canvas too, having recently painted over it with the white eggshell for a fresh start.

I’m taking some new influences such as Adrian Ghenie, whos layered painted work is absolutely phenomenal, as well as Peter Doig, who adopts a different technique but a similar rigor of depth. I’m also looking into Francis Bacon and Gerhard Richter, along with a couple others. I’m already seeing more success with this method, and I have to say it’s proving to be intuitive for me, which is always a good sign.

The name for this project is taken from the “cartesian plane” co-ordinate system in mathematics, a grid which resembles the kind of grid I am using to overlay the geometric marks. This working series is entitled “Cartesian Plains” because I’m investigating landscape and nothing is above puns.

Ruling the Metal Workshop with An Iron Fist

A bit of a departure from my usual media but I decided I wasn’t going to let myself produce something completely inconsequential for the HUB workshops this time. Metalwork appeals to me because of its angular, constructive qualities, and its the same qualities which I enjoy in drawing. For the sake of that connection, I wanted to create something I could draw from; something with a simple system of light and dark, a simplified structure.

Also it’s kind of a pun.

I can tick the sculpture category on my blog post now. Word.

Unlikely Encounters – My Father on a Scottish Path

I’ve been working on this for a while in my studio, as a way of developing my current project. I have a few things clear in my mind that needs improving, one of them being scale; this piece is by far the largest landscape drawing I’ve completed.

The image I used is of my father walking down a path on the Scottish moors, an image which I chose because of precarious relationship between the individual and nature, (the path was on a steep hill, with a very long drop).

Using this photo begun my thinking around the idea of including a figure in the landscape, a small, comparatively helpless individual, which is self assured in it’s own survival and intelligence, but ultimately still at the mercy of the natural world. I want the piece to bristle with chaos, and suggest the changeability of the natural world, rather than the wonder, or the sublimity, such is the standard representation.

I’m still pushing the idea of visualising hidden forces, this force being the force of chance, and the random and chaotic encounters which can occur as a result, both constructive and destructive motions. Julie Mehretu has been a big influence in this way – her use of simple shapes or “characters” to represent different social entities was inspiring, and its an idea which I’ve drawn heavily from and translated into nature for this project.

In my previous pieces, the grid cells were so large and so few, that very little complex patterns emerged. With this I created a much tighter grid, allowing for complex and incredibly unlikely events to occur. These random geometric curiosities are to my piece, as a skull is to an Old Masters painting. They are a symbol of the hidden forces at work in the environment, which cannot necessarily be seen.

This piece took a long while, and I think I learnt a lot from it, and I’m currently in the middle of creating a large scale support for another piece. This one shall be in oil however, and I hope to experiment with (minimal) colour. A reduced palette is essential for this, if I don’t want it to degrade into complete abstraction.

I don’t want a geometricised Jackson Pollock piece.