We are forced to be both the performer and spectator simultaneously
An analogy of the double edged sword of technologised first world culture, where artificial attachment inhabits every part of our life, and where this “hyper-connection” is both constructive and damaging.
- A number of different scenarios are unfolding, separate only by circumstance; they are all connected either willingly or otherwise.
- The figures in the middle depict the harmonious connections, where each benefits the other in a sort of symbiotic relationship with mutual consent. In this circumstance each figure has energy, as if the system is invigorating them.
- The figures at the bottom right are victims of such a setup. They are bound by and fighting the connections which others have accepted. The “Devil’s Snare” scene from Harry Potter springs to mind with a “don’t fight it or it will strangle you” kind of attitude.
- The small, doll like beings on the middle and top left are symbolic of the post millennial generations, those of us who have been born amidst the culture of information overload, and know nothing else.
- There’s an ambiguous figure sitting with its back to us, which could either be a benevolent or malicious entity. It’s almost impossible to know someone through these artificial connections, and that’s part of life now.
- The beings facing each other are seeking a rare face to face connection, but this connection is weaker and more uncomfortable.
- The figures on the right are a (possibly generalising?) jab towards the older generation, who cultivate strong human connections, but are unfamiliar with contemporary dynamics.
- One form faces directly towards the observer, maybe questioning their involvement in this system, maybe turning their back on it.
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.
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.
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.