Exploratory Project 3

Back on the EP – work up to March 16th – painting sketches

I was utterly stuck on how to convey emotions through felt as it just didn’t seem to respond to any effects I placed on it. It is often described as ‘anti-material’ and it certainly did not respond the way I expected material to.

I left the project alone for a week and went off to see the Hockney exhibition (The Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy). Not only was it all about gorgeous landscapes, but it was the same scene visited many times (something that was suggested in the EP brief) as well as using a variety of materials and changes of scale (something else mentioned in the brief). As I wandered around, I finally started to resolve my ’emotions’ sticking point. What would happen to one defined landscape if you applied different emotions to it? How would the mark-making change? How would the colours change?

Whenever I wish to convey a particular emotion, I always look for a subject matter that conveys that. What if I imposed that on a familiar (to me) landscape rather than changing the landscape to suit the emotion? To impose emotions on the same view, same proportions of image, same time frame etc. etc. I could hear the rules forming in my mind and by the time I woke up the next day I had a route through my blockage planned.

I would need to move away from felt for this. Creating sketches in paint would allow me to make many different marks, in many different ways, that I could not do with any other medium. It would also allow me to tackle scale and from yesterday’s viewing it was very clear that a large-scale was very immersive for the viewer and I reckoned for the artist too.

The following are ‘conversations’ transcribed from my journal after I had completed the first painting of the group:

So how did you wind up with paint? You were meant to be exploring these words in felt – wasn’t that the point?

Well, felting proved a totally impossible way of exploring these words. It’s slow, labour intensive, neat and precise. I was going to look at doing a painting for ‘scale’ which is impossible to do with felt. It takes up too much time and too much material – so it seemed natural to make that progression.

That and the fact I had just been sitting on my project. Literally sitting on it. Paralysed by my inability to do these words in felt. I get all the materials out and then just sit there and do nothing. Just nothing. A real emptiness of apathy and fear just washing over me. So I avoided the project. When we had our EP group chat, I found it really useful to have a ‘discussion’ with myself over what was annoying me. So I thought I’d try this again with what it feels like to be in a given landscape. What it physically does to your feeling in a city or in the sea. Then I wondered what a frustrated or calm landscape would look like. This also followed through to happy and depressed.

Everyone says my work is ‘beautiful’, but ultimately ‘fluffy’ (& not in a felt sense!). Well it is. It’s intentionally beautiful. I want it to be beautiful. That’s because this is also a form of self-medication for me. Create beautiful work. Capture a memory that made you feel great – replicate this and you’ve got a ‘little pill’ of natural remedy. Look at it whenever you want to get a kick (maybe make landscapes in the form of pills?!). So what is the flip side of this?

The flip side is something I haven’t really wanted to get into. Why? I dunno… maybe I’m frightened of opening a can of worms… I happily tick along managing my depression – and given the massive upheaval of the last few years, that’s bloody brilliant. So if I start digging into it will I relapse? Or am I now in a place that’s much more stable? Part of the reason I don’t like all the reflection malarkey – and indeed the first meet we had in Barnsley – was that it’s like therapy. Far too much like therapy and I’ve done enough of that in the last few years thank you!

But the suggestion of making items you wear – and indeed pieces that affect the individual – suddenly lowered the drawbridge and all these ideas came flooding out for items that affect the wearer.

These pieces will still be informed by the words I have been investigating. So I thought it would be worth looking how these words affect my therapeutic landscape. How would the same landscape look under different emotions?

My intention is to create 4 paintings with emotion applied to them… … Clearly these may appear as finished work – but Angela said not to worry if that turned out to be the case.

Rules

  1. Same landscape and distance. They don’t have to be identical, they could join onto one another, but they don’t have to
  2. No more than 4 hours on any one painting
  3. Same sized canvas each time (tall and thin – 120cm x 40cm)
  4. No going back and ‘tarting it up’. No overworking. Once you’ve left an area that’s it. Live with it, whether you’re happy with it or not.
  5. Do not deviate from the landscape. Develop and explore any interesting ideas or techniques on other canvases.
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