It’s the end of the school week and in my studio a canvas is ready, primed and the initial preparation work is done for the beginning to be made on an idea for a painting that has been rattling around in my head for the last six weeks. My working process is often quite slow and methodical paintings tend to unfold over weeks and months rather than hours and days. I’ve learnt to be patient in this regard. Studio time is always a balance between my three days a week educational work and any number of other commitments.
I feel excited by the work ahead. The concept for the painting is incredibly clear in my head, I’ve worked the plan out in a series of drawings and plans on the computer. In many ways it is simply a question of execution of the idea. Although ‘simply’ is a little deceptive. The plan as it stands looks likely to be quite a labour intensive process and as anyone involved in the creative arts all sorts of things will, and do, happen along the way.
I’ve been working on a series of drawings and digital works that for now are entitled Manipulated Nature. They all involve the alteration of situations and views that I come across in my surroundings and relate to how we view and adjust the world around us, sometimes for practical reasons, sometimes for aesthetc and sometimes it would seem, for little reason at all. The way the Dutch landscape in particular is used and abused is maybe particularly extreme in the area of manipulation.
The drawing shown here is one of a series of tree images that hopefully with time may become paintings, although I suspect before we get that far there are som technical issues to be addressed as to how to make something that works well as a drawing, also work well as a painting.
If you are interested enough to see a few more pieces of my work click on the ‘paintings’ link above.
I haven’t posted a reflection on a day working on my own work for a while. Various reasons, the inevitable intrusion of other activities being the most significant of reasons. Still, the work goes on, even if it is not as speedy in its production as I would desire.
Today I’ve been working on the two images shown here. Both are, essentially built of the same components; a sky, a bowing coloured wall in the foreground and distorted by perspective verticals that in the drawing on the left are trees and in the painting on the right have been reduced to single fine lines. Also in both cases there is an ambiguity in whether the ‘wall’ is standing in the landscape or whether the landscape is possibly a sort of theatrical backdrop that has been painted or pasted onto the wall and now appears to be becoming separated from the surface creating the illusion that it is bending in space. The way in which the verticals are, well not vertical, play into the visual uncertainty.
When starting these pieces I thought that the drawing with the four tree trunks was just an experiment for myself, to prove that I was going the way of the greatly reduced ‘trees’ in the curved painting with its red wall. But having worked on the drawing with the trees today I am less certain. I think there is still work to be done to strengthen the drawing, particularly in darkening it to make it heavier, but maybe there are still possibilities worth exploring here.
Two or three times a year I go either away on holiday or a short break. Mostly these trips involve a lot of outside time, often in quite remote places. About five or six years ago I started to take a sketchbook with me, on reflection I think this was because my own work as an artist had become increasingly related to the landscape and I think that I thought that by more careful observation of it I might actually learn something.
That was six years ago and my work still very definitely has a landscape connection to it and I continue to take just a small black hardback book with me, either A5 or A6 and a small set of twelve watercolours, a pencil, a brush and a black fine liner pen.
What I do on these trips does in one way or another feed back into more carefully worked out ideas, but it has also become something in its own right. I have never thought of myself as a great technician, certainly not when it comes to a material such as watercolour, but I do enjoy the challenge and speed of it all, as I pause for a few minutes with my family most often as company.
I have just come to the end of a two week break from teaching, the first week was spent in good weather in the landscapes and forests around where I live in the Netherlands, the second week over the border into the Eifel in Germany.
The resulting filled pages will certainly never be exhibited, so a post on my blog certainly seems a good alternative.
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- Tagged art, drawing, forest, hills, mountains, sketchbook, small scale, travelling, trees, watercolor, watercolour