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.
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.