Friday, 12 October 2018

New Work and Tweaking Work

'Untitled,' acrylic on canvas, 120 x 160 cm
I'm posting some new paintings from this week. The first is a canvas I'm painting for a potential exhibition submission and there is a deadline of mid November so as soon as I stop writing I'm getting back to work on this! It is large, 120 x 160 cm, and I'm inventing the elements as I paint, with one thing leading to another. Figurative painting makes you look at edges and transitions of colour in a different way to abstraction and it is challenging (something I welcome), and impacts on my abstract landscapes in a positive way. If I had to define what the main difference is, I would say that working with figuration helps to make the 'drawing' elements in the abstracts more definite and focused. I don't define drawing necessarily as putting a line around a shape and filling in with colour; drawing, for me, is the way edges meet and relate to space, shapes, and this includes the transitions of colour and mark making.

'Moon Web,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 40 x 40 cm

'Moon Web' is a painting which also seemed to evolve by itself. I became interested in the moon as a painting subject recently because I love night imagery and often watch the moon and moonlit sky at night. I also liked the idea of webs being a creative factor and they relate to how I see myself as an artist: spinning webs all the time and trapping ideas. 
'Arriving Home,' oil on board, 60 x 45 cm

This is a work in progress from a few years ago. I often go back to older paintings and tweak them and in this one I just want to soften the 'white tree trunk' on the left and sort out a small area in the middle front. Often I find that time needs to pass in order to 'see' what is relevant in a painting and what needs to be tweaked or changed. Some paintings shout out that they are finished, many need that extra time to consider them - though not always years.

'B Went Missing in the Land,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 70 cm

As well as these works there's a canvas that I started yesterday which is driving me mad! The colours are in reality much brighter (iPad photos tend not to be too accurate). Hubby says 'leave it alone' but when I am frustrated by a painting it generally means that I need to do more work on it. Sometimes the extra pushing at a painting really improves it, sometimes the whole painting gets lost, but it always improves your general practice to push for more. The thing is to never be afraid to want more.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Something about My Painting Process

'Feeling My Way Through the Land,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 100 x 80 cm

Before I begin a really large (120 x 160 cm) canvas I have been working on several medium sized paintings as a kind of preparation for working on a larger arena. I also wanted to explore some landscape elements I may use in the large painting which will be submitted to an international exhibition when finished. (Not a lot of pressure, then!)

The two medium sized canvases I am posting show how I often approach my series of landscape 'poems' from slightly different angles. The first, 'Feeling My Way Through the Landscape' was evaluated during frequent short breaks.  After the initial calligraphy I took time to think about each area before making changes. Some areas of detail remained untouched, some were painted over so that the lovely pale brown under-painting shone through. I wanted that base colour to have an emotional impact and for my mark-making to be like my emotional footsteps across an emerging landscape. My landscape experiences are so important to me that often my paintings are inspired by these. I like the mark making and colours to be almost like 'tracks' across the land.

'The Pathway to Forever,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 100 x 80 cm

This second painting takes a more spontaneous approach because I let the paint language dictate the calligraphic brush strokes and colours, with a lot of layering of fluid colour. (Once again, the photograph is not completely accurate; the blue is more of a grey-ultramarine blue). This reflects my approach when working with ink on rice paper which requires a confident touch because you cannot alter marks once they have been painted - other than tearing up the picture and making a collage (an idea for the future). I like the way that marks and colours can suggest a place or world, and as the 'landscape' emerges I take short breaks to evaluate what is going on, while wanting to retain the spontaneity of mark making. This can mean erasing parts completely, altering the intensity of a colour, or viewing the painting from another side. Sometimes I even prefer it from another side and will continue working it that way around.

The 'spontaneous process' paintings tend to be worked on fairly rapidly and with a lot of destruction and over-painting. Then they need a period of being left alone while I think about them. One recent painting, 'Three Escape the Deluge,' (which I am posting again) was left for a week, pending destruction, but then I decided it was actually finished. Artists are not always the best judges of their work in the immediate aftermath, so leaving a work alone allows the emotional censorship to fade and the chance to see what is actually happening in the painting.

'Three Escape the Deluge,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 70 cm
Painting really requires much testing of colours and shapes  and making mistakes, especially when your imagery often emerges through processes and letting the paint speak. Painting from the landscape or a figure has an exact set of references that can give a skeletal framework to attach colours to but working in an abstract way requires an intense attention to edges, shapes, colour transitions, colour relationships and also drawing. I am not saying that figurative work is more easy, just that you are starting with something to work from whereas working from the process of putting things down and 'trapping' an image takes some time and a lot of awareness of potentiality. You have to be open enough to follow where certain clues might lead you.

However, I also like to start from a visual memory and the final painting I am posting was inspired by a recent summer evening in the park in Tunbridge Wells (Kent, UK) watching a music festival with my husband. We sat up on a hillside with the moon rising to the side. There was some Lavender nearby. So my skeletal references were: moonlight, the full moon, lavender (purple), hazy shapes of trees, the glow the moon cast across the slightly cloudy sky. Painting that moon was a big challenge and I must have changed its colour, shape and position at least 12 times!

'Lavender Moon,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 60 cm

Once my large canvas is stretched I will post images of it as it progresses.

(Afternote: For my previous post I added a slideshow of some of my artwork on YouTube. It is not the best video as the colours did not translate well.)

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Fiona's Paintings 2

Thoughts on Painting

'Three Escape the Deluge,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 70 x 50 cm (2018)
As an artist sometimes it is interesting to stand back and analyse the source of your painting ideas and stylistic changes. The painting posted above has a different approach to some of my recent work in that it has included figures and is quite detailed. I was not sure about it but my husband persuaded me not to paint over it. I did not plan this painting but I believe that this theme was influenced by my large Dafen Biennale painting (posted on 20th July)), which explored thin washes of paint against texture and pattern, with figures in a landscape setting. I think that each painting an artist makes filters in to new work, even if in minor ways. Language is always referencing itself in unknown and unconscious ways.
'Daytime in a Jug,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 50 cm (2018)
While still involved in abstraction and finding forms for landscape that can be translated in to an abstract language, (as above) the figurative paintings are inspiring a different way of looking at abstraction. Painting is certainly not easy because while allowing the image to evolve within its own terms, I am also aware of what I am seeking from paint and in particular the use of mark making and calligraphy. It is like a spiral, sifting around and around through various competing elements until the ones with 'meaning' take a paint form.

My work also involves at times an autobiographical element. I paint pictures that may reference an event in my life, or thoughts about places and people, or a News item. I learned not to worry if these ideas enter some paintings unbidden - or if they seem to take me away from my 'core' vision. The more I paint, the more I believe that you should not censor ideas; just let them appear and keep working. Ideas are always evolving and for most artists there is a constant looking back at past paintings and extending aspects from those in new work. I also believe that working in a figurative way helps to strengthen your awareness of elements such as drawing and colour when it comes to abstraction. 

This painting, from two years ago, is about Migrants. Here the colour is much thicker and mostly oil paint. Working with thin paint was a result of working with ink on rice paper after my trips to China, but I also like the dialogue with thick paint as part of my process.

'Migrants,' oil on canvas, 70 x 50 cm (2016)

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Paris Decisions

'Autumnal Seascape,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 cm
It was the deadline yesterday for sending my image for the catalogue for an exhibition in Paris that I mentioned in a previous post. This is the prestigious Le Salon Des Beaux Arts, which takes place each December at the Caroussel du Louvre,Paris.

I was curated for this exhibition by a curator I met in Beijing for the 6th and 7th Beijing International Art Biennale (2015, 2017). The group of artists who have been selected will show together - there will be around 44 artists from 23 countries and our brief was to submit a square painting (abstract or figurative). I feel really honoured to have been selected for participation in this!

My delay in submitting my image for the catalogue was down to having to decide between two paintings. I painted them both for the Salon, bearing in mind that the brief also included keeping to Blue, Red, Black, White and Yellow. I liked them both but for different reasons. Both are exploring various ideas about paint and form. As I know that, for consistency, our group is having the work framed in white frames, I decided in the end to submit 'Autumnal Seascape' because when I tried it against a white frame it suited white better. The red painting, which is perhaps my favourite of the two, simply was too restricted by the white frame; it is a painting that really looks best unframed, to allow the complicated shapes to breathe.
'Paint Poem: Mountains,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 cm

As the red painting, 'Paint Poem: Mountains,' has a lot of white, it seemed too flattened out by a possible white frame. If I ever frame it, I will use a neutral coloured wood. I feel quite sad as I spent ages on this particular painting, but in the end it came down to framing decisions.

I will write more on this, and the group I am exhibiting with, in another post.

In the meantime, my large painting 'Social Integration and Opening Up' has gone to the framer. I believe it will be shipped very soon, as I am waiting for information on a shipping date, and the frame I chose was perfect, a pale cream colour.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

A Brief Post

'Retracing My Steps,' ink and acrylic on board, 30 x 40 cm
Sometimes when there is not a great deal to write - when life just trundles along without many incidents, as it has the last few weeks - it is better to only post some pictures of paintings. 

The last two weeks I am trying to finish a few paintings for exhibitions and stretching canvases. I will post the new ones very soon.
'Excursion,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

Friday, 17 August 2018

Paris and China

'Nostalgia,' corkboard with collage: canvas (painted with acrylic and ink), and acrylic and ink, 

Since my last post I found out I have been selected to show at a highly prestigious international exhibition in Paris in December - I will write more, and the name of the exhibition, once the details have been finalised and the painting is ready to photograph. I will be showing as part of a group of international artists. This selection came through a curator I met in Beijing in 2017 at the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale. I am really thrilled that she selected me!

Last week my MDF box for shipping my painting to China was delivered. Though I still don't have a shipping date I felt it was better to have it ready in advance.I still have to frame the painting.

For this post I am going to add a few images of some collage work I am currently doing as well as a painting about global warming. The collage work is an extension of some painting ideas and the great thing about collage is that it suggests new ways of creating texture and applying paint, and also new ways of creating shapes. So I am excited about these while still working on canvas purely with paint.

'Teardrops of the Setting Sun,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 50 cm

'Trees,' gesso, ink, collage (painted jute canvas) and acrylic, 25 x 25 cm