Monthly Archives: August 2009

blogging, a shop window to art

Wednesday 26 August 2009

a couple of days back i discovered the website emptyeasel.com and read an interesting article on artists and blogs, called Nine Reasons Why Every Artist Should Have Their Own Art Blog after reading something on ArtBizBlog.com‘s website, but ArtBizBlog was full of broken links so i couldn’t access any of the archived articles, maybe i’ll try again later. emptyeasel seems to have many well-written articles for artists, and searching for art-related advice and information is quite straightforward. anyhow, my aim on this website is to have an artist journal separate to my art portfolio, to show work in progress.

green abstract paintings on paper - art for sale online
[green hues triptych – mixed media on paper]

this has turned out to be a quiet place for artistic musings, thoughts on contemporary art, some creative reflection, an art journal of ongoing ideas, the things that preoccupy me as a contemporary artist, works in progress, materials and working methods, exhibitions and other art-related activities.. it’s also a form of promotion that you can always link back to, artists need to be a little egotistical (look, this is what i do), but the internet has become quite ‘shouty’ of late… media heavy pages that take a minute or more to download on a slow broadband.

i need to work much more on networking, promoting my artwork outside of the area, getting my work represented by established galleries in the long term, not just occasional exhibitions… i need to draw more frequently and use it directly in my work.. i need to give myself time to develop a body of artwork, and not get too distracted by creating one-off pieces that take months to complete.. and i need to finish all the books i have started reading. i need to be consistent and focused in the days, the months, the year ahead.. i will try not be distracted by the worthiness or high ideals of other artists, i will keep motivated by being true to my interests.

shop art - art in shop windows, part of harleston and waveney art festival

over the weekend, i spent a few hours (unpaid) on a new logo for a display postcard for the local shop art window displays, part of the waveney arts festival… will the other artists approve of my retro style graphics design? the blank red starburst is for the shop number and looks a little like the price signs you see on market stalls, the concentric circles or target echoes an eye, window shopping, shopping with a purpose, shops that are linked, marking the town centre, of coins and the exchange of money, but it is in fact based on the original mod target (taken from the RAF apparently) indirectly referencing all things British.. it will help local businesses with a few more curious window shoppers.. a mix of typography mirrors different shop fronts linked together in the street, the art word appears like a drawing or sketch, with the usual artist’s method of dating artwork (with a little red dot for luck)…

in retrospect i doesn’t explain everything about the event; i haven’t designed the art labels, shop quiz sheet, press release or flyer, creating continuity in the publicity which a professional designer would do… a bit too late for that, a rushed job, but it’s eye-catching and will link all of the participating shops with an identifiable badge.. maybe next year some earlier planning and objectives will turn it into a bigger art event.. i haven’t studied graphics since the unit on my art & design diploma; back then it was all hand-drawn in layout pads – art without computers.. which reminds me, i need stop typing and calmly step away from the computer..

for texture’s sake

Tuesday 25 August 2009

more small abstract paintingsit’s a rust thing…

three abstract paintings on paper - gold brown turquoise

rich brown autumn hues - works on paper - three small abstracts
[click to view more small abstract works on paper]

i have selected the above six paintings for the colour harmonies, autumnal hues.

i dislike composing descriptions for my work, but i wrote this today… (the inspiration behind the small striped works on paper).

These small paintings on paper are essences or distillations of rural landscapes, condensed colour experiments influenced by my visual experiences as an artist. I find colour inspiration in the environmental and elemental, from naturally eroded surfaces to discarded objects – often at the coast, inspired by beachcombing finds, the effects of sea erosion, water traces, strata, striations, from eroding cliffs to the shoreline – to the salt-encrusted patinas on boats or weathered facades at the harbour and quay side. Farm buildings, old barns and sheds, the slow appearance of decay in manmade and natural structures, the silent history contained in objects exposed to the elements, the intricate beauty in rust on metal, lichen on bark, moss on stone, water algae – and the more structured, geometric patterns of arable fields, farm tracks, fences or hedgerows on the horizon are also pictorial influences.

my farmscape paintings are developing very slowly, as the cooler hues of autumn and winter to pervade my colouristic senses.. at present they look bereft of colour – dark olive, slate grey, ash grey, rust, taupe… in truth, i lack the space to work on all ten paintings at once, so it is a game of shuffle, hang up, put away, find again, which leads to a little reorganisation each time, and then i lose focus, lose any cohesion in the series.

so, in the meantime, i have been playing again with texture and torn paper, more experiments on a small scale… i can’t seem to shake off the rustic, weathered and textured aspect to my artwork, and i enjoy the medium of collage, and want to revisit the spatial, scuptural elements of using layers, partially hidden, casting faint shadows, abstracts in low relief..

textures in mixed media - torn paper, ink, acrylic
[monoprint, frottage, acrylics and chalk on torn paper… with extra crumple]

torn paper textures -ink acrylic on paper
[another one, this time backlit by sunlight, semi-transluscent]

abstract painting - adding more colour
[another one,with lime green textured underlay]..

i like to work with materials and processes that directly control the visual outcome – i want encrustation, layers, natural colours, i want it to allude to something environmental or elemental in nature, but also existing completely within its own construction, with its own narrative that requires time to unfold. this is where my parallel interest in photography merges… as an artist, i develop a close relationship with the textural qualties of the materials… a painter has to takes risks, to push the process, it becomes an obsession, the overall concept or idea is just that, an idea that you can’t plan objectively, or clarify in words, or theorise upon as a precise starting point, it needs to be explored and ultimately understood through the materials, the old adage, the medium is the message, not just texture for the sake of it… one could always use the real thing, i guess – found materials or objects, create assemblages or combines – but sometimes the ‘hand of the artist’ is denied in the artwork’s elaborate construction (maybe this is the point?).. paint is obviously a more versatile medium, the personal imprint of one artist at work…

playing with fire

Friday 21 August 2009

whilst digging about in my photos folder i came across these photographs of my painting  fyre, as a work in progress… so perhaps this is a good opportunity to talk painting methods and processes…

abstract painting - starting with primed canvas
[primed, stretched canvas, with addition of a home-made acrylic gesso..]

usually i use a mixture of chalk and diluted PVA (or rabbit skin glue with the smaller panels to make a traditional gesso), although i might add some ‘sweepings’ to marble dust or a chalk to add irregularity to the texture. sometimes you can use these accidental flaws, incorporating them into the work (or how far i can go with a textured mix on a flexible canvas substrate)..

this canvas was first worked on horizontally then put on the easel where gravity did its bit.. i reworked some of the medium as it was about to dry, and used a water spray to loosen up some areas,… it’s a very intuitive, organic process.. then later i scumble glazed some cadmium and lemon yellow for the upper section..]

abstract painting - adding and reworking textures

[a few more semi-transparent glazes were put down to dull it slightly and add subtle texture which i left to dry, then more washes of yellow and some scrubbed-in and stippled mix of burnt umber across the middle section… i also use scrapers, wire mesh, a water spray, old sponges, to cloth rags, newspaper, tissue paper.. at this early stage i was looking very closely at the surface, observing the developing texture and surface patina.. it’s the printmaker in me.]

abstract painting - more pigment and transparent glazes

[above, you can make out some of the scrapings which i probably blotted a bit to soften the edges… the colour was applied with a brush, and was a mix of burnt umber and alizarin with a smidgen of violet. i think the camera flash has made the yellow paler than it actually was – i didn’t mind the drips. some photographs i had taken – the found paintings – of corroded metal also influenced the painting process.]

abstract painting - adding more colour

[more yellow applied. this time i added a bit of cadmium red which is a quite warm red, and the lower section is mainly umber with some violet, and a bit of alizarin.. alas after this (May 2008) i didn’t take any more pictures until the painting was completed (July 2008), but i progressively added more layers of orange to the upper half, using red & yellow, dry brushing, scumbling, blotting… the lower section was progessively built up in vertical brushstrokes and scraping back, and then finished with a transparent glaze that was most likely alizarin-tinted so that in some lights the surface shifts from a dark earthy brown to violet.. it is not solid black..]

i work with only a few acrylic base colours; again because of my printmaking background. in intaglio printmaking especially, a lot of the colour mixing and blending happens in the wiping of the plate. i used to make my own inks, a ground paste of powdered pigment and linseed oil. the acrylic colours i currently have are: cadmium red, alizarin crimson, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, ultramarine, burnt umber, violet, and mars black, which is a sooty warmish brown-black.

i know other artists will use more colours such as yellow ochre, payne’s grey, hooker’s or sap green, burnt sienna, but i’ve stuck dogmatically to my own very simple colour system, which includes just two of each of the primary colours, one cool one warm, plus a turquoise and violet, which makes colour-mixing more interesting.

i’ve got into using only acrylics in the last couple of years because of their quick-drying nature in situations when you want to build up many layers of colour. many people are surprised that i have used acrylic paint as i mix it with an acrylic medium or varnish, or i might add powdered chalk to get a matt surface, rarely using them in their neat consistency, avoiding the plastic sheen. i don’t want the surface of my paintings to be uniformly finished with a sheen of varnish, as i prefer subtle textural contrasts.

Large abstract painting - for sale on Etsy.com
[edgescape: fyre]

i was also influenced by tv and media images of forest fires, which, with high resolution digital cameras, make quite stunning imagery. i was intrigued by this unsettling duality in the reading of these images, of disaster as both awe-inspiring and deeply tragic.

this painting vacillates between the macro, as an encrusted, textured elemental surface, into a wider vista, an imaginary landscape, a burning horizon perhaps, depending on your perception. it’s part of a theme that i want to continue to develop further… charred earth, burning fields and forests, smoke clouds, volcanic dust, toxic mists, polluted rivers, the aftermath of catastrophe.. to coin a well worn phrase, there’s no smoke without fire

view this painting with other paintings in the edgescapes series.