Who Moved the Goal Posts?

When is creative work finished? It’s a question that is almost as frustrating as asking what the meaning of life is!

In an attempt to figure it out, we’ll follow five stages of “Vestige” as it goes from the “oh my goodness” stage to “ok, I see what’s needed” and on to completion

There are some creative pursuits where you know the finish point when you begin. They generally don’t tend to allow for much initiative or alteration along the way. Things like knitting to a pattern or building a house for instance. The creativity tends to happen prior to beginning the actual work. Thus, once you begin creating the “creation” you have a plan showing exactly where you need to head in order for your project to end successfully. Art, as in fine art, is not always like that.

As you can see there definitely wasn’t a plan for “Vestige”! Drastic measures were necessary after the above bout of intuitive play!

In the past my art was always planned, as mentioned previously, but now it is freer, led by what happens from minute to minute. It’s a great way to work. There’s more freedom, experimentation, questioning, playing and dreaming. However, it does mean that the “finished” stage can either jump out at you unexpectedly or, on the other hand, remain so elusive as to almost drive you mad!

Some artists, myself included, will often say that their art is telling them what it wants. What this really means is that we can either see what is needed, or we can’t. In which case the work gets done or we wait for “something” to occur to us. Often, the wait is long and tedious, as it was with “Vestige”! If you look closely around the upper left central area of the above photo you will see a small patch of light green. That patch could have inadvertently been covered in the painting frenzy but it remained visible to “tell me something”. You can see what I did with the idea in the finished painting below.

Since starting to work this way it has been difficult to accept that one piece in a series might be finished very quickly while another will test my patience severely, like “Vestige” did.

This piece “Hushed” is a collage on canvas and was finished right after the first piece of paper went on. (A large piece of tissue that I had prepared as part of a collage paper making session.) I stood there unsure, thinking it looked done, but I hadn’t done enough work, had I? It shouldn’t feel finished yet, should it?

It’s sister piece (above) which you’ve seen before remained “unfinished”. It didn’t feel done and sat around taunting me for a few weeks. How could I make it feel “finished”?

I didn’t want to overwork it but at the same time it felt like something was needed. Should it be left aside for later review or succumb to the changes that were lurking in my mind. The fact that the changes didn’t feel “solid” made me hesitate. I wasn’t even sure which way was up!

Eventually, a decision was made to add some collage to the sides of the canvas and reassess things after that. It didn’t alter the face of the canvas, but the sides now look finished!

There’s still uncertainty over this one. Maybe it might tell me it’s title and all will come together and make sense!

New Art Listings

Recently added on Bluethumb. Click the image to see more.

“Feeling Frosty” 40cm square

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Diversification – A Bit of Carpentry

As a general rule, being an artist and making art means displaying it for others to see.  That exercise involves framing, packaging in a matboard mount or attaching it to something else that can be hung on a wall.

New frames can be a very costly exercise and I seldom use them these days. Cradled wooden panels have become my preferred way to display work.

Currently, I work on heavy cartridge paper using acrylic paint and mixed media.  It means more paintings can be started and allows greater freedom and spontaneity because, “it’s just a piece of paper”.  The paintings, if successful, then require framing or mounting on cradled wooden panels like the one below (reverse side pictured).

Here we have a difficulty.  You cannot buy large sizes of these cradled panels easily where I live and if you can they seem to be quite flimsy and warp easily.  Thus, they are best made to order. I decided to learn the craft myself.  Luckily, my husband has helped a lot. Also, a friend has gone down this track before me and has been able to give me some tips! Check out her art at gayeoakes.com

Like any new task this one involved some planning and the gathering of various bits and pieces: mitre saw, plywood, lengths of wood for the cradle on the back, glue, sandpaper, nails, filler, hammer, clamps and a ruler. My new Bessey variable size clamp is shown below.  A slight rearrangement of the studio was necessary to allow room to move with lengths of timber.  A heavy strong table to work on helps too.

I’ve made several panels now and it seems to be going ok.  Smaller sized panels are easier because there’s no need for bracing the cradle to prevent warping.  However, larger sizes require cross bracing as shown above. 

Frustrations, so far, have been in the form of balancing perfectionism and budding woodwork skills.  They tell me it’s going pretty well, all things considered, which is good.

Taking on new tasks initially involves learning.  After that comes a settling in period where you are improving, refining skills and work methods.  The hope is to make everything streamlined and straight forward.  Plus, hopefully, speed the process up a bit.  Well, one aims for that at least!

This is the clamp in action (above) and a small finished panel (below) which is ready to have a painting attached.

I’m enjoying the process so far.  Let’s hope that continues because “someone” needs to make them!

Yes, I’m still making art as well! 

Here’s a collage that started as a first layer for “something”.  Sometimes, these first steps stump me.  They can look like they’re almost done when I’ve just began.  It’s most perturbing for someone that likes to “get their teeth into things”! We’ll have to wait and see what eventuates here.

Just to balance things out a bit, here’s one where a third “let’s start again” layer isn’t doing it for me!

New Work

These new pieces were listed on Bluethumb recently.

All the Rest is Sky” 40cm square
Sanctuary in Monochrome” 40cm square

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

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