Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Works on paper - In progress

I am waiting for a couple of oil paintings to dry before I continue with them. So I have returned to my works on paper.

And, painting on paper is a bit precarious sometimes. When a 'mistake' is made I have to really think about whether it is a point-of-no-return type of mistake or whether I could consider it some kind of 'divine intervention', like a message to disembark from my current journey to take a completely different one! If a 'mistake' is made with an oil painting, I ask the same questions, but oil paint and linen are much more forgiving when it comes to wiping out, redoing etc. Paper and gouache or watercolour paints do not allow for too much scrubbing, rubbing, painting over... and wiping out is impossible.

Given the different level of 'forgiveness' between oil painting and works on paper, it takes a little while for me to adjust when I go back and forth between the two, especially if there are long periods of time spent on either one. The way I fast track this adjustment with works on paper is to just go-for-it! I splash paint and water around, hang the paper upside down, drip other colours and generally have fun. The thing is though, I will end up ripping up over half of the paintings...but I quickly get into a groove that I feel happy with. Mind you...the special watercolour paper I use is not cheap, but I have to ignore that. Why? Because quality of materials are very important to me. Also, the good quality means I can be more brutal with water saturation, heavy handed brushing etc. Cheaper paper just curls up and almost dissolves!

In the photo above there is a selection of works on paper in progress. There are ten here in this photo and another ten or so drying elsewhere in my studio. Below is a photo of paintings further along the process. I have already ripped up a few by the time I've got to this point. And, I will be ripping up a few more! For example, I am not too sure about the one on the top left. It might have to go?

In the photo below some paintings are further along the process than others, but I keep them on view so that when I re-enter my small works on paper studio/room, after leaving it, I see them with fresh eyes. This is a tactic that I use with oil paintings too. Fresh eyes are important! Sometimes I will be unhappy with a painting, but when I walk away and return some hours later, I see things that I had not seen before. Sometimes a painting that had made me unhappy or uneasy 'speaks' to me in a way where I see a way forward. And, yes...there are other times when I just say to the do really have to go.

It Beckons [below] can be seen in the photo above. It's the small one in the middle bottom row. Since the photo above was taken I have worked a little more on this painting. I am happy...and the painting will probably be in my next exhibition in 21 July - 2 August here in Brisbane. But, time will tell how many of the other paintings will survive to be exhibited too.
It Beckons Gouache and watercolour on paper 15 x 21 cm 2015
The above discussion sets the scene for a little chatter about a question I am often asked...
Kathryn, how long did it take to paint this painting?
A finished painting is actually not a sole expression. It is, in fact, a culmination of many successes and failures over a long period of time. Yes, as regular readers know, many of my paintings have immense detail and this does take a long time, but other paintings are not as detailed and therefore do not take long at all. Yet, these less detailed paintings would not happen without the preamble of thousands of hours of dexterous painting and thinking. With each painting I learn more about paint, surface materials and mediums such as water, turps and oil. A less detailed painting may strike a inner chord with me that culminates in another more detailed painting. There's a rhythm...
An artist's oeuvre is like a story where there are highs and lows, quieter moments and tumultuous ones, full stops, new paragraphs, exclamation marks, new chapters. An artist's oeuvre is like a symphony where different instruments create nuanced melodies, sometimes punctuated with points of immense emotion, both loud and soft. An artist's oeuvre is like an anthology of poems, where some poems are short and others long; where some rhyme and some don't; where different 'strokes', such as simile, metaphor, alliteration and more are used to emphasise, suggest and provoke.
So, what I am saying is that the question Kathryn, how long did it take to paint this painting? cannot be truly answered!
One way to deflect from giving a mundane answer about actual time, is to suggest that any conversation a painting may trigger, whether it is with oneself or with others, actually 'finishes' a painting.
Paintings can potentially have a multiple of completions. There 'lives' extend beyond the studio and gallery in a dynamic way!
Friends have sent me the actual The Independent [UK] newspaper from March 7 where my painting graced the front of the paper's International Women's Day feature. Here's a photo below of the painting and the paper together.
The painting is She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him. [Jamieson-Fausset Brown Bible  Commentary] Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2009
And, with reference to my post above and the question I am often asked ... you can take a guess!
Here's my post from March 10.

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