This is a recent painting where I brought some bits I’ve gathered from the forest floors while out walking. I wanted to bring the outside surroundings back to my studio for some recent paintings that I am working on. The gathering of such things like pine needles, bits of twigs, broken up pine cones and dried dead leaves were placed on the surface of the canvas before I painted over it. I used the bits I’ve gathered as a way of sketching out the composition on the canvas which changed the structure in places as the painting progressed.
Here’s a little piece of my studio floor. Some things brought inside.
Here is an example of the atmosphere and environment of where I love to spend a lot of my time. These places in nature fuel my art when I get back to the studio. I think a short video, even just from my phone captures an idea of the experience. The sounds, movements and visual all help, I am only missing the sharp sweet scent of the pine trees, grass, soil and many other scents which can only be appreciated when your sitting surrounded by it physically. Our world is a truly beautiful place.
Something from the past.. A sketch I did last year from memory. I photographed it using a shallow depth of field f2.8 on my camera lens. Then I uploaded it to my computer and manipulated it with some textured layering on photoshop. The original drawing was a gift to my brother for his civil partnership wedding.
I hadn’t sketched like that in a long time and it was very grounding for me at the time. I have a love for trees, they make me feel protected in a way, they are like piers to me, older and wiser. Monumental survivors..
Studies in oils on stretched paper that I incorporate into some of my paintings. I would abstract these further in the painting or just use as reference to evoke the narrative in the work. Sometimes I am satisfied enough with them as sketched and move just move on to the next.
Painting is an integral part of who I am, it is my primary form of expression which allows me to achieve a sense of belonging in the world. Painting is a way for me to investigate and resolve my place in areas of time and space in which I occupy.
The environment I am most drawn to is nature. Being surrounded by forestry and vast mountainous spaces trigger my sense of place. It evokes a wonder that drifts between the relevance of humanity and the purpose of existence. When isolated by the surroundings of nature a dialogue emerges through self-awareness where a bond between humanity and nature is significantly felt. Back in my studio this dialogue has a strong hold on what happens when I paint and my aim is to bring these conversations to the surface turning them into something tangible.
Photography is something that I would use as a type of journal, recording ideas and inspirations. I often bring my film cameras out with me to capture the things that interest me about a certain environment. I try to capture the atmosphere and mood of a place that mirrors my mood and emotion. I often put myself into the photo so I can become a part of it. When I study the resulting negatives and images I use the ones that bring visual narrative to my attention.
Through the memory of a place or an event, I jigsaw layers of paint onto the surface of the canvas pushing its boundaries until a narrative starts to emerge. Feelings that I am not alone in the solitary confinement of my studio often result, as if an absurd affinity between the work and I have occurred. It prompts the feeling that the work is reaching a place of relevance and the conversation finally emerges.
Through lots of layering and working up the surface of the painting, I sometimes take it off again and rework it until I have reached a place of recognition. I like to experiment a lot with my art. I sometimes expose parts of my negatives directly onto the canvas. I do this through my alternative darkroom processing technique called liquid light painting or painting with light. This makes the canvas light-sensitive so that I can develop a negative onto the canvas as I normally would when I’m developing a picture onto photographic paper. There is always the chance that the image fails to emerge after the exposure, but this is what makes it unique and interesting to me. It has a presence of something tangible by chance which appeared only to disappear. Leaving marks of tones and textures, the images that disappear are often more important and meaningful to me than those that stay.
I work the oils onto the same surface and the exposed image is one of the many layers that help build up the surface. The exposed image is also a way for me to bring the figure into the work. It may get fully or partially covered leaving parts untouched or it can be transparent through layers of paint over or underneath the exposure. I usually let the exposed image dictate how the paint should interact with it and sometimes I would use other media such as sand to add further texture to the work.
I began a new painting today working in the larger scale. I had forgotten the feeling of freedom working larger had allowed me in the past. Its hard to explain. Like my physical movements against a canvas closer to my size make me feel immersed somewhat. Working large after many years is like a new experience to me all over again. You could say I feel as fresh and new as my new studio and surrounding environment.