Friday, 25 November 2011

Interpretation versus taste

Taste and prejudice are the enemies of creativity. As a painter I can't afford to 'hate' any colour or my options are limited. Through the act of painting, new horizons open and we follow where they lead, without self editing. The worst thing is when someone says 'I prefer it when you paint trees,' or 'Your flower paintings were so good.' Other people's interpretation of what you do grows from many sources, some relevant, some not, but how crushing it is when someone blocks the flow with a random remark. I've known painters who couldn't paint for days.

Recently an art agent collected 11 canvases for a show. I thought a lot afterwards about how others look at my work once it has (hopefully) become a separate world. Always there is the fear of how one's work will be interpreted - and of course, maybe I am deluded and in a creative cul-de-sac without realising it! (The fact that it is not an exact science leads me to many wobbly moments.) What amazed me was that she selected what I considered to be one of my worst paintings ever. ('Puddles in the Park.') I wondered what she had seen in it that I was unable to connect with, because of the tangle of aesthetic and technical questions in my mind.

I had deliberately used shapes and colours that challenged my visual comfort zone, and had been unable to unify them. I let the painting go for exhibition as perhaps when it re-enters the studio, it will need just a tweak here and there.

One of the exciting and eternally challenging aspects of painting is that there is no set viewpoint, no one way or fixed interpretation. But artists tread a fine line between listening, and closing our ears to unproductive interpretations when working.

Then there are the demands and evaluations of the market, but that's another post!

('Puddles in the Park,' oil on canvas 50cm by 70cm. 'Coastal Landscape,' oil on board 12ins by 24ins)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Square versus Rectangle

Recently I have been exploring differently shaped canvases to challenge my increasingly pre-set response to landscape composition. It occurred to me how the dynamics change according to the shape you choose. When it comes to painting in situ, I tend to automatically use a rectangular shape of watercolour paper, yet I don't want 'automatic' responses in my work!

I stretched up a selection of squares and rectangles, and found myself totally out of my comfort zone. Squares seem to demand that you 'break' their calmness and symmetry, and this in itself gives clues as to how to build the composition. I found it literally opened new horizons for me. Rectangles were a bit more familiar, so I tried some longer ones, and then of course you have to make sure your painterly elements link along the entire dynamic. New questions appear, which in turn expand your perception and approach.

In writing this, I'm aware that it may come across as being quite technical and devoid of the emotional aspects of painting. I believe that as a painter, you need to keep evaluating technical and aesthetic issues, in order to find the best expression for your evolving emotional responses to both paint and external factors. The shape of your 'arena' seems to be a huge factor in the presentation of your passion and ideas, and a very exciting one.

(Paintings: 'Autumn Rythms,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 90cm x 50cm. 'Breezy Spring Day,' oil and acrylic, 60cm x 27cm. 'The Hill,' 30cm x 30cm, Oil and acrylic on canvas)