Get Positive, Throw Caution to the Wind

This blog draft has been hanging around for a while and today I thought I might just do what it recommends!

It’s been a while between blogs and my biggest fan recently asked me what’s been happening! I told her I’m not sure whether to continue or not. Is “it” about the process of making art or composing blog posts? I tend towards making art and not blogs really. We’ll see.

Anyway, to the subject at hand.

Is it always a good idea to throw caution to the wind?

Is it much different to being out of control?

Perhaps you knowingly venture into these new areas. You explore them with more purpose and thought. They aren’t just foisted upon you, directionless, aimless and far too wide ranging to be of real use. I’ve heard it said that exploration with limits is more productive and beneficial.


In favour of the case for throwing caution to the wind the following examples are offered.


Some new toys arrived, two rubbery wedges! Ideas for using them on Google seemed samey and unexciting, so I decided to just slap some paint down on the paper and move it about with them. To allow for maximum chance of some form of success I used a big sheet of paper. It means you can happily scrape and spread paint with large arm movements. It seemed to be using a lot of paint though, but I kept going as some rather lovely marks were happening. My soluble graphite crayon and a spiral stamp got a look in during the creative fenzy too!


It soon became obvious that you need to stop before you make a big muddy mess. Several large pieces of paper later it suddenly dawned on me … I had no idea what to do with them next. “Think about it” I thought …… Nope, no ideas were forthcoming. So, I set out with some white paint on my brush to follow wherever the lines and forms within the image took me. The exercise revealed a landscape and I thought “Ok, I can work with this!”


Throughout my art adventure there have been several memorable points where I seemingly threw caution to the wind. One of the earliest, I think, would be trying a new style of sketching. I’ve previously referred to it in Drivepast Sketching – Our Journey Begins and it was well worth the experiment. From very early on I “knew” that it was going to lead me somewhere new. There was no indication of where, but I could feel it.


This is what turned up, sometime later (below). It’s a mingling of the sketches with things that happened elsewhere in my art. It turned these sketches into something more, something different. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t decided to sketch differently.

Can you see how these feed into the wedgy piece I painted later (above)?


Another early experiment uncovered a way to compose images using the markings on Richea Pandanifolia leaves. (It’s a native plant here in Tasmania and grows at higher, colder altitudes. Look it up and you’ll see why I like it.) Well, this wasn’t an experiment as such initially, more of a stumbling! I had lots of photos of these leaves and I’d spread them out to find what I liked best. The process was a jumble of photos on the table, all overlapping and arranged randomly. Could some of these be compositions to use? Or, could the idea be explored to find compositions? Or both? It was a completely new idea for me and, I think, the first radical move away from traditional landscapes.


I tried it and really enjoyed the process of finding compositions, creating the art and, luckily, I liked my creations. Another similar coloured pencil painting, “Richea Pandanifolia in Focus” features in the first issue of Studio News.

The painting below, “The Landscape Within” is a further development of the theme. I’m wondering now if this idea will come back and take me on another journey. The markings on these leaves are very abstract. Mmmm…..!


Back to the wedges. Putting paint directly onto the painting surface from the tube often results in too much paint to handle. What to do? Oh well, scrape it off? No, it’ll turn to mud! What to do with it then? Why not just slap another sheet of paper on top of it, like a Rorschach image, and see what happens? So I did. It was so insignificant at the time that I didn’t take photos, but this is the result. A little thought, turning it upside down, more mark making and finding the skyline and “Veil” was there. It won an award and sold earlier this year!


Sketchbooks are another place for experimentation and play. You can do whatever you like and no one ever needs to see it. Recently, on a trip away, I decided to sketch as quickly and as minimally as possible. On the same trip I decided to do sketches one on top of the other. Whether these will lead anywhere remains to be seen.


Not to forget the case against.

It’s not always pretty folks and it can be soul destroying, if you let it. There have been many times when experiments have led to abandoning ideas and pieces of paper in the bin, or even in the fire! Some might be kept for collage fodder or for working over later. Sometimes, though, binning a piece is the most sensible way to go. Best if you never see it again!


As far as reuse goes. Often, when you come to reuse these abandoned pieces you are far more likely to “throw caution to the wind” and have a really good go at it.

We just turned the case against into an arguement for telling ourselves, “what the heck” and going with the flow! “Genesis” (below) is a result of just that.


Throwing caution to the wind can be easier in some circumstances than others. It also depends on your mood, but I reckon it’s a habit worth developing. You never know where it will lead and as I’ve found, even your worst pieces can be used to get you into that free state of happy playful creativity.

I wish you heaps of happy and successful creating!

If you would like to view the work I have available please go to Bluethumb.

You can always see what I’m up to at Wendy Galloway Art on Instagram or Facebook.

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

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

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

HOMEGALLERY

Devotion Pays Off

I’m talking fine art here, but these thoughts could apply to numerous creative pursuits.

Have you ever looked back over your creative time and noticed unintended links and developments in your work?

Often it’s not until some time later that you realise previous work has led to or influenced new work. Follow the progression through these pieces that I worked on over a period of eight years from 2014 to 2022.

It makes me think about the times when you think there’s nothing exciting to do. All the old things seem boring, like they’ve run their course and there’s nothing new presenting itself that’s worth attacking with gusto.

It’s times like those when devotion to making art comes into play, consciously or not. Not just for the fun, exciting times, but the whole box and dice of good and bad times. Those weeks, months or years of work sit quietly in place influencing you. That place can be a box, a sketchbook, your photos, in a frame on the wall, or your subconscious, your journal, your memory, anywhere!

When I say devotion, I realise you cannot know whether your subconscious is playing the game. But, it seems to me that if I’m consciously focussed on art, my subconscious is too. I know this because art ideas will spring to mind and I can tell they’ve come from past work. And, it won’t be ideas for sewing, which I’ve done in the past, or what to eat for dinner that night.

Of course, being “in” and doing your work helps your conscious brain think about what’s next too. It’s like two brains!

When you realise you’ve been working on a piece and have been influenced by past work it feels somehow comforting. It’s knowing there’s a thread running through things that is yours and yours alone. You’re creating authentic, original pieces that nobody else ever could. Sure they can copy afterwards, but it was yours first.

I can hear you asking, “But what about artists you’ve been influenced by?” Fair question. I don’t copy other artists, but I’m obviously going to be influenced by them. But, it’ll be in a way that is individual to me, combined with all my other influencing factors.

The good thing about all this is that things beget things! “Working” creates momentum, internally and externally. You just have to keep going for it to happen!

Exhibitions

For the Hobartians among you. The Art Society of Tasmania’s Annual Exhibition is opening on Friday night. Click here and scroll down to find out about it.

Juggler” 67cm x 97cm is one of my entries. It’s actually another painting in the development series I’m talking about here.

New art on Bluethumb

Summer Rain” 20cm square
“Leftovers” 30cm square

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

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

HOMEGALLERY

Using Loss of Control to Your Advantage

It occurred to me recently that, not only is the painting of each piece of art out of my full control, but, so is the whole adventure. No longer do I, or can I, plan what a painting might look like.  Neither, can I plan where I’m headed on this journey in the short or long term!

Firstly, the act of painting.

I’ve been “planning” a couple of things. One is, to mix some more original colours before I start and make the paintings more authentically mine.  Also, I’ve had lots of ideas for design starting points.  I seem to collect heaps of them for just this purpose! 

But, it just doesn’t happen folks.  The gear is laid out, the paper ready and in I go, with minimal, if any, thought of my plans, loose as they may be.  Stuff just happens, as it did in the first stage of the painting above, leaving me with the job of deciding what “it” wants and following the leads.

At this next stage, below, I’ve collaged on some paper, some of which is thickish handmade paper. I’m wondering if it’ll last the distance? But, hey, I’m not in charge, so who cares.

I pressed on with it, feeling both out of control and excited.

It seemed like a good idea to digitally explore the possibilities so I used a photo editing app to play about with the paintings. Using the “whiten” feature I designed various sky shapes. Two variations are shown below.

I ended up with heaps of options! Which to choose!?

Below, I’ve painted the first layer of white paint for the sky shape of the selected option. Then, it tells me, “fix” that big blue bit at the bottom.

So, I did that, but still not happy …. it needs a little something?

It’s only minor but I added some graphite outlines and emphasised others. But! It’s still out of control! I can’t seem to “like” it enough for it to be finished. Not sure it should even exist! (It may be the first layer of something else.)

So, you can see, there really isn’t any way to control where a painting will finish up when working like this. There may be more to do on this one, or it might be painted over. These developments, however, inevitably lead to new ideas and discoveries, both welcome and unwelcome!

Secondly – overall plans for the year.  I made a few in some areas, such as a small list of themes or “subjects” to tackle!?  But, you guessed it.  We’re not on track there either. We’re off somewhere looking for something else, with no idea what it is!

Now, to be fair to plan making, my art and I are heading in the general direction that I planned. I’m making art and moving forward with associated stuff. It’s just that our route is taking us on a few unforeseen deviations along the way.  It makes for a more interesting trip. Who knows where we’ll finish up!

Do you suspect, as I do, that art might be different to a lot of other things, in that all this change and redirection of effort can successfully be allowed to happen? It can lead you to the unknown but pleasing goal you didn’t know you had!  The one you were not obliged to achieve.  And along the way you created paintings that you didn’t know you were going to paint.

New Paintings

Here are two new pieces that have been listed on Bluethumb.  Click the images for more information.

“Shardonnay Mountain” 71cm wide x 67cm high
“Stay Cool” 68cm wide x 66cm high

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

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

HOMEGALLERY

Working With Wedges

I’m continuing my explorations with the wedges I bought recently. It’s amazing how many random sundry items can be used to drag paint around a piece of paper, old credit cards, cardboard, kitchen utensils……!

(Paint dabbed on direct from the tube then pulled across the paper.)

It’s just so much fun. I find it hard to stop myself from overdoing it and ending up with a muddy mess!

You can also scrape into the paint with these wedgy devices to create interesting effects. Even combs meant for hair provide interesting marks, as long as you don’t go overboard. Finally, a use for those head lice combs I had for the kids!

(I’ve used an old comb and my wedges here.)

They really are a recipe for fun, experimentation and adventure. The hard part is balancing the excited kid and creating an image with a hint of artistic finesse! “Revelation” which I’ll be uploading to Bluethumb soon, was a success story in this regard. Here it is after the first restrained session.

(The beginning of “Revelation”)

With something like this you tend to become tentative about what to do next for fear of wrecking everything. This time I opted to paint in a sky shape quickly and step away. (Must maintain that fresh quality).

Anyway, this is how “Revelation” turned out. It’s one of the lucky ones in that I was able to hold back from overworking things. It felt so good but it means everything happens so fast!

(The completed “Revelation”)

I said to some fellow artists last week that I need a helper, not to do bits of painting or other things, but to stand beside me and snatch my tools away at the most opportune moment in a painting’s development.

I’m about to start some new larger wedgy ones so we’ll see what develops there.

I took some wedge type tools with me on our recent plein air outing. I was hoping it would help make my sketches looser. In the process I discovered a couple of new ways to use them.

(Plein air sketch using wedges and a big graphite crayon for drawing.)

New Work

“Table Cape” and “Dominion” (cousins of “Revelation”) have been uploaded to Bluethumb. They’re both unframed but Bluethumb offers a great framing service.

“Table Cape” 68cm wide x 25cm high
“Veil” 68cm wide x 28cm high

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

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

HOMEGALLERY

Art is a Fickle Business

One minute you’re all set to race off in one direction then, something new shows up.  Don’t get me wrong though.  It’s is not a bad thing!

Limiting myself or my art to a particular style seems counter-productive. There”s way too much to do and that’s without any new ideas or discoveries that come up.  The enthusiasm would wane if I imposed limitations on style. Why not take full advantage of unplanned, random “opportunities”?

(“Play things” with a license to be fickle!)

While working on this issue of Studio News, an example of how things can change unexpectedly emerged.

I was processing progress photos of the day’s work and some needed rotating. It turned out that one was better upside-down! In my eyes at least! In the group of four progress shots below you can see the difference. I guess we’re conditioned to see land as darker than sky most of the time anyway.

(Stages 1 to 4 of a current exploration.)

As I pondered, my mind went off on a tangent, automatically brainstorming, the implications and possibilities, as well as how to resolve this painting? This change of direction (literally!) might see me veer off on yet another exciting tangent. I don’t know yet, but I can feel “something”.

It was only a minor fickleness episode but it could change the course of this painting and my art generally. Who knows! It’s a big adventure.

Another painting in the series has shown me something else to investigate. Layer one didn’t cut it, nor did layer two. So I plastered some 3 in 1 paint over the whole shebang. Now I have a background that I really like and it’s asking for something. I don’t know what. It’ll be a waiting game. An incubation period. Another adventure.

(Layers 1, 2 and 3, top to bottom)

Sometimes, it really is difficult to know what to pursue and what to forget. I think the only way to cope with all this fickleness might be to act on impulse. You know, those sudden intuitive directives that say “just do this, or that” or “what if we do this?” Be impulsive and fickle right back, test the fickleness, use it. Trust your judgement and intuition. Don’t be predictable. Instil a little adventure and excitement into the process and let it show.

New Work

“Trackwork” and “Swell” are now listed on Bluethumb

“Trackwork” 40cm wide x 28cm high
“Swell” 68cm wide x 25cm high

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

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

HOMEGALLERY

Keeping the Momentum

A couple of bushwalks in our Southwest National Park have inspired me with their fantastic scenery.  We walked up Clear Hill and then into Lake Judd a few days later.  They’re opposites scenery wise so there are a variety of influences floating about.

(Amazing conglomerate rockforms on the way up Clear Hill)
(The birth of the Anne River at Lake Judd with the Eliza Plateau behind.  We contemplated the possibility of floating down the river instead of walking back!)

Whilst these photos show the wonderful scenery the aim is not to paint realistically.  Rather, my aim is to bear in mind the visual forms and textures, the feel of the place and my emotional reactions.

(The hills on the way to Lake Judd.  The area was burnt about three years ago.)

Ok, enough of that.  Let’s get started on the painting!

Here are some progress shots of a couple of paintings from a current group of seven. They’re based on memories of the above plus bits and pieces I like about “Switchback” (below).

Somehow, we ended up with two different styles in this group!  (Your guess is as good as mine as to why?!)

This first one was painted over a previous non-starter (below).

(Starting point – I thought it should work well because the palette is the same.)

As you can see in the photo below, the paintings are progressing well.

First, the hill shapes were created, then some scumbling or glazing on parts. A bit of lifting off opened things up. The sky was scumbled with layers of white and blue …. trying to make it interesting and not too flat. Adding some new colour on the hills seemed a good idea and a “lake” began to appear.

(Stage 1)
(Stage 2)

In the version shown above acrylic ink was added to the foreground. It seems a bit too samey though, so, in the next photo (below) you can see I’ve lifted off paint to lighten some areas. Parts of the foreground were darkened to create more contrast. Almost there I think. Just wondering about lightening more areas in the foreground.

(Stage 3)

Now for the other style. It’s a bit more intuitive and abstracty but still with landscape shapes.

I managed to pull this out of the random starting marks!

(Stage 1)

The stage above needed more colour so raw sienna and turquoise inks were added (below) plus I attacked the sky and painted over some of the drips.

(Stage 2)

Then, warm colour was added in some white areas but it’s still not feeling finished. I’m uncomfortable with that light square in the centre even though it’s now smaller. Can that sky do with lightening too?

(Stage 3)

A couple of the paintings in this group are tentatively finished, but there’s a “cooling off” period in case there are things to fine tune. Some paintings say “I’m done” quite quickly while others take their time.

It’s time to think of the next challenge.

You can see all my art on Bluethumb.

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

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

HOMEGALLERY