17 Mar 18
BLACK CIRCLES: completed today.
The three black circles are formed using direct print, a risk when adding as the last detail, because the texture and outcome are a little unpredictable. Direct print contributes a different type of texture, the circles are not perfectly formed, nor perfectly aligned, which leaves the painting feeling slightly unresolved, yet more interesting. Scraping paint away from parts of the circles create opportunity for geometric play and small detail. The linear frame wraps around 2.5 times at slight angles to create subtle perspective in an otherwise flat painting, a detail I’m increasingly working with, I enjoy the paradox. The ground work appears as three layers merging, but is actually made up of five or six. The layered and textured ground, slight shading in the demi-circle, linear framing and hovering black circles add depth, while the essential nature of the painting remains flat.
There is something primal about working with geometric shapes, after almost twenty years of abstract painting, I inevitably gravitate back to working with geometry and its organising aspect.
Stranger times than ever right now, my closest friends lost their sister recently, and my partner lost his wonderful mother, within days of one another. Never has there been a time of greater contrast or polarity. I’ve lived on my own now for a year and a half, I have a lot of time to ponder the bizarre nature of life, but when I paint, time stops and thoughts suspended – if ever a reason was needed to be creative, surely it’s to transcend the loud protestations of the mind.
Unresolved, yet more interesting.
1 Mar 18
The big painting: SIX SHAPES.
Squaring the circle. A light square on dark, and a dark circle on light. In between, halving of the circle, stacked, and a morphing of a square and half circle. The morphing shape is like a pool of water, the dark circle reflected at its edge, reflecting. The rectilinear framing adds subtle perspective, enveloping the circle, the reflection and the morph. All five shapes are touching, only the square hovers slightly apart, framed by the darker texture. Monochromatic, apart from the smallest shape, a circle and a pivot, picked out in red, a focal point. A painting of opposites or contrasting elements, the opposition is rendered benign by the harmonious whole. The big picture. From opposition flowers harmony.
The number 6 in Tibetan numerology represents Harmony.
1 Mar 18
Opening to experience, within the soul. As the old experience falls away like shedding skin, the renewal invites a greater, more magical experience to flood in.
The big painting is almost finished. Then, a new train of thought.
28 Feb 18
Line + SOLIDS: completed yesterday, a rework of a recent painting, from negative to positive. The double rectilinear framing provides subtle depth and some perspective to the otherwise flatly painted solids, creating a visual paradox that I quite like.
I also quite like the snow. Next… March. Now working on a bigger painting.
26 Feb 18 part II
Challenges to the Creative Process
…aka LIFE. We all face challenges, it is part of the human condition, and challenges come in every conceivable form. Like so many, my most recent challenge is in experiencing a difficult divorce. There is a view that the creative process can be enhanced when challenges arise by channeling our emotions into our work, assuming that we are not impeded by physical challenges such as a debilitating illness. However, I discovered that emotional pain can be equally debilitating. The I Ching states that we should aim to achieve Tranquility in Disturbance, i.e. ignore the avalanche of drama and do it anyway. I believe Salvador Dali had a similar view. This particular wisdom is a sword with two edges; we can understand the truth of the view, and yet this view may cause additional pressure in an already pressurised situation to ‘get our shit together‘, when perhaps we are not ready to do so.
Speaking personally, I require peace and ideally a certain sense of joy to be at my optimal best when painting. Almost a year and a half later, I am only now truly getting back into the studio and producing work again. Sure, there have been sporadic moments of creativity, only to ping back like a rubber band into the ‘wtf just happened to my life‘ state. I realised that the rubber band effect is a part of us that operates not from the mind but a deeper sense of self. Allowing oneself space to move through difficulty at our own pace may ultimately be the most expedient way to heal. Forcing ourselves into any kind of action, especially one that is meant to be joyful, is like whipping a lame race horse to go faster down the track, the horse becomes miserable, the condition worsens, and what was once a full tilt joyful experience becomes a fear by association. We have to be ready, to reassume the mantle.
So, the challenges continue, of course, because this is the nature of living life, yet something has fundamentally changed. As the sense of overwhelm subsides, a heightened strength emerges, whereby the push-pull of life no longer seems so pushy, we become less phased by the rocking of the boat, looming storms don’t send us into blind panic any longer, in fact we welcome the approach with a knowingness that not only can we handle it with a new found inner strength, but that this too shall pass… and that is the true meaning of Tranquility in Disturbance.
26 FEB 18
Circle + LINE began as composition over two years ago. The elements, while interesting, overpowered the composition, essentially there was too much going on, and so I walked away from this work until such time as I could experience it in a fresh light. Working on this painting over the last few days became a process of mostly reducing the elements, only fragments of the original are still visible. The work has now come into balance, the new space created allows for greater focus on the elements that remain or have since been added. Obliterating parts of a work provides opportunity for increase in texture. Scoring into the central area while plastic enabled the gestural mark making, subtle so as not to overpower, enough to leave an impression once the direct print block had been applied, what I think of as the cement block, pointing to a kind of architecture. The cement block, while controlled in application, leaves space for chance, and brings out the surface texture that may otherwise have gone unnoticed, and so the underlying sweeping brush strokes come to life, framed by the block.
22 FEB 18
A day of updates, including Artist’s Statement. After many years of skirting around the issue, a statement about why I don’t like statements.
GEISHA photographed successfully, with minimal colour correction. Not every painting loves a camera lens. Like many of my paintings, this is a re-work. I have a mountain of canvases in the rework pile, some of them years old. They sit there until one jumps out, ready for completion, and not always successfully – some have to be abandoned all over again until the next time, but only after I’ve kicked them around the studio for good measure. GEISHA combines many of my favourite elements. The ground work is a graffiti sprawl directly onto linen, overlaid with semi-transparent geometric planes, reminiscent of textile. The Sharpie in the ground cuts through several layers of acrylic, allowing for elements to be picked out in white, and brings in the constructivist element that I have experimented with for many years. Essentially, the original has been simplified by obliterating most of the detail, only parts rise to the surface, allowing focus on the more interesting aspects.
Another old canvas resurrected today, while working on it, reminding myself of why I abandoned it in the first place. Individual elements good in themselves but don’t work as a composition. In the end I’ve obliterated all but a few details. There comes a point when I’ve been staring at the canvas for too long and become snow blind, I have to walk away. Tomorrow I will know more.