I’m currently reading ‘What painting is’ by James Elkins, this is a very interesting book about the act of painting rather than its art historical context, it compares the process to alchemy. I really enjoy this vision of painting; I think it’s very significant for painters who find it hard to talk about their work because the act of painting comes from another part of the brain that is not necessarily logical or linear. It’s a process where in you allow your instincts to take over while mixing and applying the paint, never sure what the outcome will be and sometimes creating something magical without fully understanding how. This comforts me.
I’ve had two unsatisfactory exhibitions that taught me a few good lessons: I recognize why I did these two exhibitions now. What was wrong with these exhibitions? The spaces were unattractive, the lighting was bad, there was no support in setting up or publicizing the show, my work wasn’t right for the space. I only had cheap frames which didn’t do the work justice. I guess I thought a show is a show, or something along those lines. Well, it isn’t. Maybe if you have a community of artists to support it and come and see it and bring people to it, it could be useful in some way despite note being completely perfect looking. What I got out of it: it’s good to be discerning about where you show your work, I also enjoyed putting the body of work together and writing about it and then writing a statement. I learnt a lot about the work I’d done through this process and I felt proud of it. So, it was worth doing, although I hope not to do it ever again. I now think my work is worth more than a shabby exhibition.
After my studio was finally finished I’ve been spending as much time as possible in there. I started painting, changing from gouache to acrylic was harder than I thought, but I have been using a combination of both which is quite exciting. I was thinking about Valerie Brennan’s use of materials, creating space with different textures. Also thinking about Ky Anderson’s and Amy Sillman’s drawing. Cutting up paintings is a lot of fun. Being limited to a rectangle is boring. I think often about Patrick Heron’s drawings and later very loose paintings that were like drawings. Feeling that I need to mix my colours more.
I Watched Cornelia Parker’s BBC Four documentary ‘what artists do all day’, I loved the way she uses her urban environment as a source of inspiration. Her work is sculptural and conceptual but there is something poetic and beautiful about it. I like her sense of play and wonder, it’s infectious.
Working on task two Form, Frame and Fracture: My second task for the MA started out very well with me taking inspiration from an Ellsworth Kelly piece:
I painted using a limited palette on a piece of A2 paper and then cut it up into small rectangles creating mini abstracts I then rearranged them at random creating another larger work. I would like to offer these small works as gifts to friends on Facebook and see them fly off around the world therefore distributing and fracturing the work.
This didn’t take up the full 12 hours that I’ve been allotted for the task so I started doing other paintings to cut up, thinking about alchemy and using a combination of acrylic and gouache to see what happens. Also thinking about Valerie Brennan’s work and wanted to create space through texture. After I made two or three pieces I felt like maybe I didn’t really want to cut them up. I’ve spent rather a long time working on a piece that is very challenging; I’ve been using gouache and acrylic and exploring how they work together. My tutor suggested that I was fracturing my process in this way, which I think is quite a good observation. I am very interested in the materials I’m painting with and how they work and what marks I can make with them. I felt very strange when I began to use gouache and then became very comfortable with it and made a lot of work. But now I need a change, I need to do more experiments with mixing colour. I’m leaning towards using oil paint but I’m pregnant and I’m not sure it’s a good idea.
I realised that the ‘Frame’ part of the task hadn’t been satisfactorily addressed yet, so talking to my tutor she suggested I think about the frame being the art historical context of the work, or the process and how it could be presented (in a flip book of photos for example). Or possibly, the colour theory. I decided to do the obvious and look up the word in the dictionary because to be honest the word was beginning to lose all meaning for me and I found: the verb to frame can mean the following: ‘to build by putting together the structural parts of, to conceive or design, to arrange or adjust or to enclose’ I find these definitions quite interesting. My feeling is that I would like to paint thinking about all of these definitions and see what happens, I’m attracted to the idea of building and enclosing in a painterly way but possibly by manipulating the paper again in some way.