This body of work has developed through working within various places both domestic and the Artists’ studio and represents a nostalgic return to a theme from my past and the landscape around where I live and with which I have a strong connection. The notion of place is of importance and like Professor Baldacchino (2013) I believe that, ‘artists have always been trying to find a place for themselves’. My sense of place has been realised through working within the artists’ studio and by responding to a landscape with which I have an identity and attachment.
I found myself responding to colour, in particular the striking pinkish colour of the shale bings, shrouded in purple and green foliage, which are a reminder of the mining industry many years ago and the distinctive conical shape of the landscape which is visible far and wide and marks a region steeped in history. Initial on-site literal observational studies of the landscape soon surrendered to a transformation in approach.
Exploring a range of media and mixed media afforded the opportunity to experiment with surface textures and the undulating rhythms within the landscape. Through working in the landscape it became clear that I was focussing more on atmosphere, light, space and presence more than form and detail and this is when the artwork became more abstract, yet retained the essence of the landscape through a personal response to and interpretation of my surroundings.
Experimenting within the Artists’ studio through printmaking and mixed media, new avenues opened up and further abstraction occurred. Particular areas of previous drawings or prints were selected and further developed. Accidental, ambiguous, fluid mark making, colour and light were produced through the process of printmaking; some prints are bold with blocks of vivid colour and colour merging whilst others are more delicate, textural and atmospheric, light dancing across the surface, land and sky merging. This in turn led to an altered approach to painting with oils on various prepared surfaces. I learned to layer the surface with white emulsion then with oil paint, picking back areas using turpentine to reveal hidden layers and gems of colour just beneath the surface. This offered interesting colour merging and blending whilst retaining true colour in other areas. It almost felt as if I was undoing my paintings by rubbing back the paint and colour to reveal underlying layers but the results were exciting to discover.
The artwork became increasingly autonomous but resisted becoming arbitrary by insisting on a continued relationship with the landscape and my sense of place. Setting aside a specific time to engage in artistic practice has become fundamental to the pursuit and development of new learning and has resulted in new approaches and an exploration of my artistic identity and continuation of my artistic journey.
Baldacchino, J. (2013) ‘Art as Unlearning: Finding a Place’ Seminar [Video webcast]. UWS Artist Teacher Programme Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/58982833
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