Monday, 6 March 2017

Certain kinds of Recognition

'Paint-Poem,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm
The title of this post doesn't refer to public recognition or fame! I'm thinking of the recognition that artists have to develop regarding their practice; whether something 'works' or not. I remember being a student at Canterbury College of Art, (Kent, UK), and becoming very confused by all the different critiques offered by our tutors. As a student you are absorbing so many influences that it is easy to lose your way - in fact, I look back and believe that this is part of being a student! - and as you have to create a consistent body of work for the Third Year college exhibition (and resulting Degree evaluation), you are under a lot of pressure to find a 'style.' Thankfully, once you leave college you can evolve at your own pace, and while it can be hard not having someone to give you feedback, you certainly learn to sift through the elements in your artwork and find your own rules.
'Excursion,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm
I have found that all the failures and constant evaluations have helped me find a personal doorway into my own rhythm and world. I learned to trust my intuition and the 'recognition' of something that just seems to work, even if I can't say why. Sometimes the most crazy element will 'finish' a painting, and that allowing of spontaneity to resolve a work has become one of my hardest-earned but most positive practices. 
'Anticipating-Spring,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm
It's not an exact science which is why many times you have to chance your hand and follow the language or call of the painting. There are 'dead ends' but I would say that without the excitement of those inner voices, I would not paint at all. 

All artists have their own doorways, and while mine involves a certain spontaneity of language and brush strokes, and a large amount of intuition, other artists may prefer a more formal approach, with the creation of studies before they begin work on canvas. One of my doorways is to make a lot of small paintings. These open up the possibility of mark-making and calligraphy in larger paintings. It is whatever works for you!

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