Start Strong and Follow Your Intuition

Enthusiasm is usually pretty high when beginning new work.  That was the case with this painting.  Let’s see what happened along the way and what seems to have eventuated.

It started with some fun wedge marks using “in your face” Indian yellow. Cheerful, but a bit much all over things eh!

Sticking with “in your face” colour I applied red gold and white, along with some graphite lines. Scratching about to create some texture seemed like a good idea too.

I couldn’t get away from the strong colour so I thought, ok, stick with it. On went some pthalo turquoise and white in a frenzy of mark making. Oh well! That was fun, but mmm? What now?

No! I thought. That’s enough killer colour! So, now, how to deal with it? Easy option …. wedge on some white, not to thickly cover it, but to take the edge off. After that it cried out for some glazing. So, I obliged using a little red gold, not much, and some Indian yellow.

When I say not much red gold I mean only a little glazing-wise, but those stronger lines were added as well. It was a risk I took and I think it paid off. The lines provide a nice structure.

It might be finished (above) but I’m going to wait a short time to see if my completion comfort level changes. It’s a fairly busy painting which feels a little unsettling.

(Detail)

If the painting sits well after a break it’ll be declared done and take its place on Bluethumb. There’s a slight question in my mind about whether to highlight or push back some parts, or perhaps a bit of both.

(Detail)

The beauty of waiting a while is that, usually, as soon as you look at it again, you know exactly how you feel. The break provides a bit of emotional distance and allows you to view things objectively as well as letting your intuition have a say if it feels inclined.

Ok, what’s next?

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Bringing Things Back Into Line

Or, it can be more like bringing yourself back into line! Painting can definitely be a combination of both.

This one started freely with hope, a sense of excitement, free gestural wedge marks and fun graphite lines.

Collage felt like just the thing so I decided to play about on top of the paint and graphite.

Now what? Some digital fiddling perhaps? It can be fun, if not time consuming, looking for designs using a photo editing app …. could really lead you astray!

After digital play time, I decided to use one of the weird imaginary landscape designs I had “found”. Who knows how the mind of an artist works!?

Ok, so that just didn’t do it for me.

How to remedy the situation and bring it back into line so to speak? There were several choices, as there always are.

  • Bring it back into line by covering the whole lot and starting afresh, ie kill it
  • Use more collage on top
  • Do some more wedgy play on top, or
  • Get busy and sand it back a bit, or a lot.

Sanding sounded adventurous so I went with that option. After sanding for a while it started to look and feel better. Perhaps we are onto something here! It took longer than you’d think to hand sand it back to something that seemed acceptable. The painting is on paper, but the paper seems able to take a beating. Anyway, this was the result.

The artist is happy now it seems …. might put it in a local art society exhibition if I can get it mounted on a cradled wooden panel in time.

All went well, but after carefully glueing it to a panel and weighing it down overnight I discovered bubbles under the paper. NOT happy! The damn thing is fighting back! If the bubbles can’t be fixed it’s the end of going in the exhibition and (the painting doesn’t realise this) but it’s the end of it too. (It would have to be removed from the panel which isn’t pretty.)

After another unscheduled “bringing it back into line” assignment (which is a rather voodoo doll like exercise) and resealing it, we have the painting below – “Feeling Frosty”, a slightly smaller, cropped version, all stuck down neatly on a white cradled panel and ready to hang in the exhibition.

All this toing and froing is inevitable, but it’s part of the joy of making art. I guess it’s similar to being out of control! There are, however, varying degrees of control and frustrations in art, or lack of them, as the case may be. Artists’ moods, temperaments and how they “cope” with these experiences also vary. Do you give up, or, continue, have fun and hope for the best? What might be sheer joy to one of us delicate creatures will send the next one mad! Indeed, I myself have moved from the mad camp to the joy camp. Well, I like to think that’s where I am most of the time.

Happy creating!

These new paintings of mine are now listed for sale on Bluethumb.

“Switchback” 22cm wide x 22cm high
“Party at the Gorge” 67cm wide x 70cm high

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On My Marks Series

On the move with a new group of paintings …. the “On My Marks” series!

The above is a tiny section of a mark making and collage exercise.  It appealed to me immediately, the shapes and the flow of the lines.  If you look close, can see a sneaky “s” hiding in there.  It’s basically a curvy design with a hint of diagonals. That texture is nice too.  The crop won’t be translated visibly into the new work, it’s a starting point, an inspiration!

This palette of colours is one I’ve been playing with for a while.  Pthalo blue and raw umber yellowish with black and white, with cadmium yellow light added to the mix.  It’s providing some brightness and a little touch of playfulness.

(The bottom sheet are mixes made with the addition of the cadmium yellow light.)

The series started with eight small squares taped together.  To begin, intuitive marks were made using leftover paint from exploring the colour mixes.  Then, some drawing with water soluble graphite and water flicked about to create a few drips.

Standing back to look at them, it felt like they needed a bit more warm colour.  So I added more marks with a raw umber yellowish mix, did a spot of drawing with a coloured pencil, made some more drips and lifted off things here and there.  Then, they were allowed to “cook” for a while.

It can be difficult not to plough ahead with things, but sometimes you get to a point where you know you’re just continuing for the sake of it, not because you have a useful contribution to make.

Here are two of the squares.  The bottom one is more interesting than the top one.  There’s still a way to go though, so don’t panic!

(The first step of these two is on the left, and the next stage, with more warmth, on the right. A little “spot the differences” moment for you!)

What to do next?  I had a look and decided to do whatever came to mind, or hand!  A bit of collage, then they needed lightening up with “sky” areas.  The images were leading the way.  (If they”re leading me I don’t have to take responsibility!)

Sometimes you don’t know whether what you want to do is right or not.  No, that’s all the time really!  It means that you do things and immediately regret them.  Why do you go further when you liked what you had originally? People often say that you build up a history by creating layers.  That’s true and I have done that successfully, but I’m not convinced it’s the only way to work.

The four images below are the two paintings shown earlier.  I’ve done more to them now.  The first one has been turned upside down!  They’re still not done.

(Not sure that I like the green here.  Not feeling very fond of the blobbiness of the “hill”, although, there are some interesting marks in there.)
(After a bit more work.)
(Quite like the make up of the bottom part of this one.  The colour seems better somehow, even though there’s green here too.  Maybe that sky needs to be taken back to white…..or blue?!)
(This sky seems to bring it to life.)

The others are coming along too, but there’s more to do.  More to do or more to learn, or both!  Painting is a learning experiece as well as a creative one.  There’s always more to learn, especially from the “duds”.

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Going Feral

When you receive word that your art has won an award it’s both humbling and exciting.  It makes you motivated to push the boundaries even further.  Although, I don’t think I’ll pursue this particular style further it will lead me somewhere new.

“Feral” was awarded Runner Up at a local Show

Likewise, selling a painting has a similar motivational effect. You need to make good use of these feelings by getting on with more art.

“Fusion” sold at the same show

Keeping Busy!

You know how there’s a plethora of art courses online?  Well…. just to add to my workload, I found two that I decided to squeeze in.

One, “Time to Shine” by Alice Sheridan seemed very timely and I could do with improving my social media posts etc.  There’s some excellent content and challenges to keep you busy!

The other was a Judy Wood’s workshop where I have been exploring a different way of working.  It involved collage, layering black, then some white paint and working towards an image on top of that.  I felt like I’d gone a bit feral when I covered the whole thing in black! I’m not sure I like a lot of black.

These are the paintings.

The one above was the first to feel sort of ok.  After thinking on it for a while, I made some minor adjustments in the bottom left corner. Still thinking though.

Number two here felt tentatively, almost, done after I demolished a large black area in the bottom third. That line on the left is trying to say something though?

I love how a picture can come to a point where it feels like it’s time to stop. It isn’t finished yet, you know that, but at some point, serendipity will play a part and the required touches will come to mind!  Just like magic!

Now for this little fellow.  Normally, I’m not keen on “seeing” things in my abstract work, unless I intend it of course, but for some reason I grew quite attached to this guy holding what could be a fishing rod.  Perhaps it’s treasure he hooked?  Anyway, I thought this one is a bit whimsical and could almost be declared “done”. 

However, as often happens, thoughts can change and after an incubation period all these works were all declared “feral” and unworthy of inclusion in the “finished” pile.

Back to the drawing, or painting board!

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Plenty to do!

I’m all set up in my new studio and there’s been a burst of play activity on the new painting wall!

The room is so much brighter than the old one and Jessie, our kelpie, and myself are loving having the French doors open. She naps and I work. Here’s a shot taken from the doorway. The walls are a lighter than they look here. Cameras!!??

Can’t wait to get settled into producing whatever artworks are lurking about.

Apart from painting the studio, building the painting wall with my husband, then moving in, it’s been a busy time organising pieces for three exhibitions that are coming up.

Making Art

There’s been minimal painting or even thinking about painting lately. I fiddled a little with the work in progress below but it’s still not making me happy and the solution is not forthcoming. Maybe some rubbing back?

I often attend the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery’s “pARTicipate” sessions. Last week Allan Mansell gave a printmaking workshop.

Allan instructed us in making collagraph prints. He had plenty of great reference material to choose from but I chose to make a print of our mountain, Kunanyi/Mt Wellington. It’s right on our doorstep and a wonderful backdrop to Hobart. Currently, it’s the subject of much debate as developers are itching to build a cable car that cuts across the “organ pipes” (as we call them) along with all the required supporting infrastructure.

The print turned out pretty well and Allan’s advice to remove more ink from the sky was spot on! He may have prompted me to make more use of my baby etching press. We’ll see what happens.

Those composition/design finding exercises continue to inspire. It’s fun creating random pieces and marks, cutting them up, reassembling them in different ways or cropping them to find pleasing compositions. Trouble is, I don’t know whether there’s enough time left to use them all, or even just the best ones!? Still, it’s all about having fun.

Which one of these would you choose to develop first?

“Wetland Walk 3” sold at the Rotary Hobart Art Show which is great! I hope the new owner is enjoying it.

I hope the world is treating you well in whatever your endeavour of choice is.

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A Devil in the Detail

This week I thought about how I often prefer the details and cropped portions of paintings more than I like them as a whole!

I forced myself to stop fiddling in the studio and just start painting …“because you should.”  When the painting frenzy stopped, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but, this bit was ok, maybe, that section might be alright too and perhaps this part. It’s been happening for ages now, just look at my Instagram.  So, what does it mean?

It means I had one of those “aha” moments that leads to something else, while preparing some large sheets of paper with gesso.   Usually, they are cut them up then gessoed, but feeling both lazy and more efficient at the same time, I did the whole sheet at once.  Cut it later, I thought as I slapped on the gesso.

While casually gessoing it came to me. I know! ….. Just make a painting on the whole sheet! Find the good parts later. Then chop it up!  Such a simple idea, but it seemed like a revelation at the time.

The idea came to me as a result of a subscriber’s comment on my last Studio News, “Fiddling and Floundering About” where she recommended I work big.  My reply to her was that I could feel “big” lurking somewhere.  I’ve felt it for a while now, but not paid too much attention. Small is comfortable, but…..

A couple of larger pieces were started based on a cropped design from an earlier painting (above).  Step one (below) seemed ok.

Stage two (above)!  Well …. not sure about this lot?  Waiting to see how it feels later on seemed like a good idea.  It doesn’t match up to my ideas or expectations.  (The story of an artists’ life!)

What next?  There was an interesting white shape, so I started putting on more colour and doing a bit of drawing based on that. After realising that I was only fiddling about, I forced myself to stop! (Good heavens! It’s like an app on my phone. Force start, force stop!!??)

Still not excited about this one though.  Why is that?  It started the same way as when painting small, so, in theory, you’d think it could work.  I have heard it’s not that easy to “go big” though.

Looking at the colour mixes …. too much variety and they don’t work together well.  Yucky greens.

The shapes are interesting enough, yet they haven’t inspired much.  Is it the comparative shape sizes or the number of shapes in relation to each other and/or the format? So many questions.

There are lots of mid values with some white and black.  The unsaturated version looks better than the coloured one, so, the values are not too bad, but, they could be designed better perhaps?

The initial big black brush marks don’t work design-wise.  They seem to cut through on top of the other shapes, taking over (especially in the saturated photo).

The big question now is, persevere with this one, try to find some crops to use, or start again?

Perseverance seemed unbearable so I tried to find some nice crops, but could only find small ones …. a signal to start afresh. It just ain’t “special” enough. No point flogging a dead horse!

So, what’s next!

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