Fiddling and Floundering About

Now here’s a funny thing. When you play and fiddle about with a painting it seems there is more interest than when you’re trying to orchestrate things. Interest from both others and yourself!

Early this year these two small paintings, painted freely and mostly unselfconsciously, were highly commended at a local exhibition. They’re from of a series of 10 small paintings I made as part of a challenge another artist and myself set for ourselves – to paint every day during January. The others are on my website.

“Confluence” 20cm wide x 20cm high
“Convergent” 20cm wide x 20cm high


It was a very pleasant surprise standing outside in the covid line to pick them up when a friend said congratulations! Making this small success even more pleasant was the fact that they were the first abstract paintings I have exhibited. These pleasures are short lived however and it was on to the next project.

During June, Louise Fletcher’s “Find Your Joy” taster course was repeated. I participated last year and got a lot out of it. It’s about following your likes, playing and not focussing on results. This is good for someone like me who used to plan her art to the nth degree! Here is one of the exercises we completed. We were limited in tools, media and the number of marks we could make with each.

Paradoxically, limitation is a good way to expand possibilities and generate ideas.


Recently, I’ve been wondering where things are headed for me artwise. It’s both difficult and exciting. You know you want to head down the abstract road but you seem to be floundering about. I guess that’s what you do when you’re finding your way.

I tried to reconcile my art aims with what is actually happening. Remember, we’re a little out of control here! However, my aim so far has been to show people what I love about our landscape, mood atmosphere etc but recent work doesn’t seem to match this at all! Maybe my updated modus operandi might be to create fun, playful images based on landscape – feelings, shapes, textures, gestures or anything else landscapey that takes my fancy?

These small play images were started recently to explore the idea.


Don’t know where they point to yet but there are a few ideas in there.

Recently, our plein air group, POGO, painted at Richmond. Although cool, it was a beautiful clear, sunny day. It resulted in six sketches to use for collage, finding compositions or generating inspiration. There’s no pressure to be exacting about these sketches. It’s an exercise in being there and taking things in.


There were a couple of crops that might be useful as a starting point for something new in the future. Here’s to the future and more fiddling and floundering fun!

Subscribe here to receive fortnightly issues of “Studio News”.

Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

HOMEGALLERY

Playing back in the Studio

You have a plein air sketch or an idea you’d like to work with! Now what?

The first thing to do is check what you like or don’t like about it. What do you feel comfortable with? What feels like the place and what doesn’t? Does it rekindle the feelings and emotions of the day? How can you translate those into studio works? Can you crop it to create new compositions? Is there something, anything, you can improve on, that, with the benefit of hindsight, will better create the mood? Or, does it in fact lead you in another direction?

These two crops were chosen from the sketch above. They’re reminiscent of landforms near where the sketch was made. The compositions and the marks within them are also quite pleasing.

Sometimes, sketches lead to work that’s not related to the original work. It might be that you’ve seen something that sparks an idea and it leads you in a different direction.

When beginning this type of thing I need to be careful because, if I try to copy the sketches, things probably won’t go well. It’s hard to reproduce a sketch as a studio piece, difficult to capture the same feeling.

Using the best elements from the crops to begin new paintings is an open way to start. One piece began with collage and the other with acrylic paint.

Collage version

Stage 1 (below) – A collage layer (well, three pieces of collage at least) with some graphite line work, a bit of spatter and a few splashes of water for good measure. It feels ok at the moment. Nice those diagonal lines.

Stage 2 (below) – Adding colour and scratching out. Not sure about this? It feels disjointed. Still like the diagonals!

Stage 3 (below) – I’ve added blue paint to remove two white areas and it feels much better. Wondering about that dark piece of collage now?

Stage 4 (below) – Adjusted that left hand side patch of light blue, making it white again and added some marks. It looks a little better but I’ll wait a while to see how it feels. Still wondering about the black piece of collage.

Acrylic Paint version

Stage 1 (below) – Started with playful application of paint and line. It feels free. So far so good.

Stage 2 (below) – Something told me to turn it upside down, add some paint pen lines and spray with water! Oh dear? It’s too busy now and it’s lost the freshness. Looks a bit grubby too.

Stage 3 (below) – Okay, lets wipe off a whole lot of stuff. In an attempt to tame the image down I rolled white paint over the parts I’d wiped away. It didn’t help! (Forgot to take a photo.) Perhaps there are too many drip lines as well?

Stage 4 (below) – Applied some paint to the sky with a rag and felt better about it so I played around in the foreground. It feels better now. Not sure if it’s done yet.

Neither painting is finished at this stage. As you can see, one thing grows from another and the result may or may not be something you like. If it ends poorly you console yourself with the fact that it was an enjoyable process exploring the idea and increased your stockpile of experience. The work and or memories of the experience may surface again at any time to help your creativity along.

ADDENDUM

Subsequently, the finished painting, “Glacial” (below) won a Commended Award at our Art Society of Tasmania Annual exhibition and it sold as well. After the ups and downs of its creation, who would have thought that would happen?!

Subscribe here to receive fortnightly issues of “Studio News”.

Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

HOMEGALLERY