I wonder if any artists know in advance how their painting will look at the final outcome? I certainly don’t and as I start this new year I’m even more unsure of the direction my work is going… but perhaps with a stronger vision of what I’d like to achieve. Does that even make sense?
There is an elusive idea of a constructed landscape: something that feels wild, that has a sense of place, of open-ness and freedom. But that is also constrained and within boundaries.
So as I settled in the studio for the first time in a while it was hard to get going. It can be tricky, almost impossible, to just pick up a brush and paint, unless you are painting a specific scene or still life. For me there is a longer processing journey – down through the layers away from original drawings.
If it is brave to lay your finished artwork open for criticism and judgement, it feels even braver to share when even you yourself cannot yet determine the direction. Imagine publishing an unedited book, or a play without rehearsal. And yet to follow ideas as they come into fruition is a fascinating glimpse into the process.
I’ve discovered that allowing myself to be one step removed can be a gentle way in, so I was using torn sections from old drawings, enlarged photocopies of drypoint prints and newspaper to create some strcutures in my collage sketchbook.
Collage feels comfortable – maybe because you can play with the options before you make the final decision where to place your elements. Possibly my background as a graphic designer means that this method of layout feels more natural to me than building up a painting does. As I was adding and removing I was conscious not to overload, to keep the arrangement simple.
As I posted on Instagram I made a comment about the distinction between creating and curating. For me they are two very different parts of the process; one is semi-automatic; your training takes over, you draw through instinct. What emerges can be surprising and exciting. And yet constantly you are also analysing, making decisions and editing. Any piece of artwork is as much about what you choose to leave out as much as what you decide to include – being selective. It’s the combination of creating and curating that takes us somewhere new.
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