Sunday, 30 April 2017
small teacup and an old tin of buttons
This week I have been working quietly on new still life compositions - working from life and really looking. I have felt a shift in my work recently, toward a more considered articulation; looking very intently at the same few objects for many hours can have an effect on you - it can make me feel incredibly delighted and at the same time I question myself and how I am seeing things. It is good to be challenged and I feel a need to follow through, one painting to the next, not knowing what will be next exactly, exploring shapes, quiet spaces....
Still life painting is a vast world, it is both current and historical. The different approaches can make you dizzy. I have known for a while now that as much as I love abstraction I find a need for some representional element in my own picture-making. I'm also interested so very much in light and space. I am not an exuberant pretty-pretty painter. My palette will most likely always remain quiet, quite muted, earthy. I enjoy painting foliage more than I do flowers. I enjoy ceramics and simple forms, the conversation things can have with things.
I have had a few wobbles this week - questioning what I am doing, where I am heading and how it is I can just take it one painting to the next. I realise now the wobble is because I am focused! I am not always so focused, and when I work I feel a sense of calm and contemplation. This is hard work, the concentrated effort takes hours and time flies.
It has been very helpful to discuss how I am feeling with my daughter, who has a very solid understanding of how pictures work through her own work in digital drawing and illustration - she knows about negative space and will give me an honest opinion about a set up of objects, for example. It really helps to have someone look before I share my work with the world.
I've worked a very public apprenticeship as a visual artist, and I am still and always will be learning. So much of my old work lingers online, it is almost like being haunted by your old school files, yet I am proud of how I have progressed, I am pleased to have worked in a variety of ways over the years, explored this and that, and found myself where I am now. In this digital world it is impossible to hide away from what you did in the past, especially if you have been selling your work as you have been developing, it's out there, and that's ok. But if I could choose I would of course prefer people to focus on what I am doing now! From time to time I get an email asking me: are you making new embroidery? And I will have to explain, no. Or I will be asked: can you make me a painting like this (something from 8 years ago!) and I will have to explain, no. But I do not wish to be ungrateful at all for the interest, goodness me, I am glad to have people looking and if my past work inspires interest, that is fine.
So over the weeks ahead I shall be slowly but surely working on new paintings, and these do take time. I'll be looking out ever more carefully for objects to put in still life arrangements (I have found myself staring at bottles and jars in the supermarket, wondering about the shapes....) Fortunately I have a good collection of objects and especially ceramics, including pots I made years ago. I enjoy painting the pots that are my own work, they feel right, which is not so strange....
I hope you may enjoy seeing the new paintings as they come about. I will be updating my shop every two to three weeks and my next update will be: Wednesday 10th May.
pears in a handmade dish with dessert fork