Wednesday, 4 April 2012

materials, structure, subject matter

It may be the case that I can do much more than I imagine with the level of skill/technique that I already have. However, it also seems to be the case that one of the reasons that what I imagine is so limited may be because I have not built up a technical and material language; that I haven't made myself a comfortable home in terms of paint and colour.

I am well aware that much of what I've been doing has been a reaction against a kind of fear of brush and oil or acrylic. Or at least, strong reservations.  The decades of 'not understanding what it was supposed to be about' are associated strongly with canvas and paint, and I don't think it's an accident that my freedom back into painting came about through playing with scans, and watery colour running into itself, and what I could do with the results by cropping and intensifying on the computer.

I can see how I keep inching a little closer to paint, and then backing off. Very occasionally, I have put paint on a canvas. I tried it twice, over a year ago, with a brush; first with oil, and then with acrylic. I made quite a dark mess, and was unhappy with the brush marks, the paintness (I only realised that some time later..). I backed off, and went back to water and colour. I had a period later of acrylic and palette knife, which I found quite exciting and freeing. And then I backed off again. Recently I've been working with water-soluble wax crayons, and I've been able to see how I'm inching closer to paint. And also, interestingly, to the use of white, which I was told never to use at art college, and which remains something quite mysterious to me.

This talk of subject matter, it seems to me today, is still premature. I'm not sure it matters what my subject matter is. It's the paint and the colour that have been my fascination, and still are. I've felt lost at times in the lack of structure and form, as I've played with paint and colour, and that lostness has taken me back to working from the what I see around me, amongst other things.

I also quite often crave some kind of line, and look around for ideas. I realise, over and over, that the natural world gives me shapes and forms and lines (as well as colour) in a way that my 'imagination' never can. And I also realise, more and more, that I am not content with being some kind of human camera thing - I start to get restless and unhappy if I find myself working directly from life in a way that becomes dead, deadly naturalistic, or something.

Anyway, this week I seem to be continuing on with the fresco/ancient Indian wall theme, in terms of texture and colour. The exquisite line of a Chola bronze statue is on hold, and I am suddenly uninterested in subject matter, and strangely fascinated with paint. And brush. There it is, paint, and brush. Two kinds of wall ochre. And white.


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