Thursday, 31 May 2018

Ink Paintings and New Ideas

'Waterfall,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 98 x 78 cm
Though most artists constantly evaluate their work and direction, there are times when you feel such a pressing need to try new things and to extend your current work approach, and almost to start from the beginning. This - my Birthday week - has been such a week! I usually go back to ink on rice paper because the unexpected movement of the ink, which can only be controlled to a certain point, always suggests new shapes, rhythms and marks. 

I was fortunate to start to explore rice paper after my first trip to China (for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, 2015), when I bought rice paper in Beijing. It really suited my way of using spontaneous brush strokes and mark making, and during my China painting residency (2016) I was able to buy a much larger supply of rice paper and worked on it at the same time as working on canvas, so the language filtered from one medium to another. 

Two works in process, yesterday. Both from my Tundra series.

Whenever I feel a 'block' in my creative process, I go back to working in ink or watercolour because it allows quick experiments and it is especially helpful to work across 3 or more paintings. It is like setting a trap for paint ideas and you have to be totally open to what appears - any criticising of the painting comes during coffee breaks. Yesterday I worked on 3 pictures on rice paper and then ran out of rice paper! (Today, for my Birthday gift, I ordered a tube of rice paper.) Some of these paintings may come together quite quickly, some may need layering and deepening of certain areas or colours, but they always stimulate ideas for new work on canvas.

Two became three! Left painting is posted below.
I like to work on the paper on the floor so I can view it from all sides. While these become spontaneous paint-landscapes or paintscapes, my focus is to let the brush strokes and colours become the essence of the imagery and at the same time allow it to be suggestive of a place or scene. I want that fusion of the magic of paint and the qualities of the medium to shine through. Rice paper is unforgiving so you have to feel the marks as they appear and respond to them - wasted papers can become collages!

'They were Stranded on the Mountain at Night,' ink and acrylic on rice paper. 98 x 68 cm
I think that the passion that pulls me forwards is the need to combine this evolving paint language with my earlier interests in shapes and colour. For this reason I may also try some collage and work on raw, unstretched canvas, as I did in China. I want to try some completely new things over the next few weeks, keeping certain elements, rearranging them, using new materials, new combinations, just to see what might happen.

At the moment I am waiting to hear the results of some exhibition applications but the need to make new work is always an antidote to wondering about acceptance! 

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