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.

Chance Figure Study

Oil painting based off one of the figures from my chance based group of formations

I generated the colours with chance, choosing one for background, light, and dark. This was an effort to investigate the detail in the figures, but I think it loses a lot of it’s initial qualities being isolated like this, and I think colour is best kept to a group of predetermined choices, rather than left completely to open chance.

I do like the dynamic between the two colour of the figure though, it implies iridescence. In a way, the odd combination and the unpleasantness of the combinations helps to portray the mercilessness of chance, capable of making or breaking a piece of work in an instant.

I think it broke it.

Chance Map – Gold on Pink

I tried experimenting with Liquin for this, which turned into a very expensive experiment, but lets not talk about that.

Taking the idea of the previous one forward into oils, I wanted to enter colour into the equation, so I randomly generated two hex codes: one was a hot pink which I tried my best to mix, and one was the most repugnant colour I think I have ever come across. But the whole idea would be defeated if I consciously chose to change the colour to something more aesthetically pleasing, so I stuck with it.

The method was very similar to the other method, with a four sided dice determining the orientation, but the different qualities of the oil paint in relation to the ink created a drastically different effect:

  1. Since the oil paint took a lot longer to drip, it was still in motion by the next change of orientation, so each turn affected every cell before it, as well as itself. The ink didn’t do this because it plummeted down the paper leaving its mark almost instantly.
  2. This slower motion meant that the drips created “subdrips(?)” when the orientation was changed, and went in all four directions in some cases, creating a spidery circuit board kind of effect.
  3. The Liquin made the oil paint dry very quickly, meaning that new paint dripping onto it wouldn’t blend, but make a new layer.
  4. Further to right it gets, the drips become more dramatic, swallowing up the negative pink space behind it, I’m not certain why this happened but I think it could be because I left the painting in the same orientation for a long while after the last cell had been painted. (I rolled a dice to determine which side to leave it on)

One other thing which I noticed is that the piece looks balanced, and the composition doesn’t drag your eye to any particular are first. Almost like an accidental Jackson Pollock…but worse. In a way that displays the fairness of chance (at least in this instance).

I will probably work into it when the oil is dry, and create some dramatically different structures with it, much more angular and less organic.

If ever you think your house would look good with a pink and gold colour scheme, look no further than this painting for your answer.

I need to stop looking at it now because it’s truly disgusting.

Angry Blackout Abstract Painting

So in regard to my last post, the “For the Watch” painting is still happening, but I’m starting again for a number of reasons. I don’t consider myself a quitter, especially when it comes to art but it was getting pretty hard to stay enthusiastic with these demons floating around.

Firstly the reason my blog has been so empty recently is I’ve been job hunting, so my paintbrushes have been left pining, so because of that the painting dried fully and I wasn’t able to blend the paint how I would like…which is a bummer.

Secondly, the canvas is very cheap and badly made, and not only has creases on the corners, but actually isn’t even a rectangle; it’s more of a rhombus…slow clap for my past self for not noticing that.

Soooo once I’d noticed all of that after sitting down to paint today, needless to say I got a tad frustrated, and this is the result. Small silver lining maybe?

Also I thought I’d post a picture of one of the dude I painted before it all went to crap, it was actually pretty tricky to paint, having next to no definition.

I would like to think I’ve learnt something at least in this brief attempt, certainly something about how to paint things out of focus, so maybe I’ll do better on the real deal.

No More Turps

What do you do when you realise you’ve run out of turps and the turps already in the pot is too dirty? You pour it all over an unsuspecting piece of paper and splash watercolour paint at it, that’s what. It made some really cool marks on the paper…

keywords: turps, abstract, watercolour, experiment, recycle

Musical Form Alteration: Alien World Atlas

Working into another one of my music inspired marks, this time the initial marks were made with my fingers and hands, so they looked a lot more spidery and chaotic. I wanted to put across this chaos so I used fineliner to pick out the small details in the strokes. I think this creates a different flow; a much more aggressive nature, and shows how that piece of music affected me differently. I noticed it looks a bit like a load of landmasses, as if it’s a satellite view of an alien world, and the spidery marks are the land inhabited by the aliens of that planet…

keywords: music, influence, abstract, ink, fineliner, chaos, external forces, order, mixed media, alien, aliens

Musical Forms (finished)

Big bulky post to make up for lack of them over the past days!

These took a while to finish but I’m really happy with them, this is something I’m really enjoying! Listening to different types of music whilst making the initial strokes seems to create such different results, and this is even more apparent when I start working into them. There’s something incredibly satisfying about taking something as accidental and free as a stroke of a wet sponge, isolating it from the rest and creating a beautiful form from it.

For those of you who want to know exactly how it happened: I listen to the music while I make the initial strokes (which are a wet sponge dipped in diluted India Ink) so this is where the influence happens. The conscious work comes next when I isolate a form I think best describes the music or a part of the song, take the dynamics of the stroke into consideration and let the strokes which are already on the page dictate what I do with it.  I only used coloured pencils to work into it: one black and one white, so I’m thinking of using a different one next time, especially if that medium might represent the emotions or effects of the song a bit better.

I find that this kind of art for me is the most honest because the meaning of it is found in the dynamic and feel of the work not what it represents or “looks like”. That’s pretty liberating for me.

keywords: music, influence, form, abstract, India ink, mixed media, pencil, external forces, emotion, honesty

Abstract Potential

Looking at the extremes of graphic manipulation. Without adding to or editing the picture with my own gestures, normal pictures are turned into completely abstract pieces. I simplified them as much as the software would allow, and by doing so created a piece of work which was coded in its entirety into the picture, but was hidden. The fact that the simplification process relies on the information already present in the photo means that in a way, each photo comes with it’s own sister photo, it’s own “Abstract Potential”. It’s only visible once the rest of the information is removed. Pretty fun to play around with!

keywords: simplification, graphics, abstract, geometric, simplify, photo, Photoshop, everyday