Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Spot of Reflection

It's harder than people think 'being an artist'. No, really! Self-doubt is a constant companion, made worse by the highs and lows of exhibiting and selling (or not selling!) work. But never mind the generalities, it's time I reflected on what I've done over the last month, what's working for me and what is not.

After the drawing episodes (see previous post), I had a spell of printmaking using a gelatine plate.  I was using bits of bracken and shreds of sacking to act as masks and create textured 'ghost' prints.

This felt like fun rather than work....
Then I tried cutting shapes out of textured material...
 Using thread and bits of lace as well as fish shapes...
And again, mixing shapes and textures...
Becoming more abstract...
And creating bolder abstract shapes....

 Out of all this experimentation I devised a set of basic rules to follow in order to achieve a pleasing result. I used these for a workshop I ran at The Schoolhouse Gallery in Dornie last weekend.  There's a randomness about the gel printmaking process, as I suppose there is about all monoprinting - or monotyping to be pedantic - and it certainly makes me think in more abstract terms about colour, texture and form....which is a jolly good thing.  I think there is a lot of potential for me to use this process to devlop the way I see and use coloured shapes and move away from realism towards abstraction. It keeps me focused on the aesthetics of putting together patterns of different colours that bears no relation to observational drawing.

However, I wanted to get some painting done this month too and I'm determined to work more in oils just to see what kind of results I can achieve. I started with a couple of ideas for lochan pictures, based on some sketches I did while out walking. Here's what I achieved the first session

And this

They look quite good at this scale, but I'm not at all sure about them. Need more work, I think but there is that risk of overworking. And they are a bit too realistic, not abstract enough.

But then I was really doing these to paint myself into another pic I had started a couple of months ago. Here it is...
I was quite pleased with this but thought it needed more work, and it had some elements that were a bit too realistic and the composition looked a little too contrived, too studied.  It is an attempt at an abstracted composition which I had worked out through drawing. My original little study, based on an observational sketch, was this (I've polished this up now and may get it framed - ha!).

What I liked about the scene was the orange island and the blue lochan and how they are opposites and kinda balance each other. However, the oil version wasn't quite working. So I went back to drawing and then back into paint - trying NOT to be realistic - and this is as far as it's got now.
Getting better, I think.  The composition has improved, but maybe the colour is too bright now. I did like the coldness of the earlier version. But that was done in a different season!

I know that I must keep focused on what am I trying to achieve. I'm not trying to create pretty pictures or cartoons: I'm trying to say something about what the landscape means to me: what it says to me - beauty, ruggedness, wildness; what I observe - quirkyness and delicacy; what I feel - preciousness, ephemerality. But there's no point in describing it in words...the challenge is to channel all of that into paint ... ha!



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