Abstract Intensives. Reflection #2 Late August.

Late August always seems to be a more logical time to reflect than the dark days around the New Year. Obviously I’ve wanted to reflect on the change the Abstract Intensive Course at hhttps://www.falmouth.ac.uk/ has had on my work. I realise now that that is just part of the picture, prior to my attending the course at Falmouth I had already submitted many works to galleries and exhibitions for the summer season and completed commissions . The unsold works from these events, and, to my chagrin, a refused purchase of a commission are slowly returning to the studio. Even with the insight of a fresh pair of abstract eyes I still really love some of them and am surprised no one has wanted to take them into their homes. Others I can see that only a mother/ the artist could see their good points. I’ve still got some way to go to get through the reading that was suggested to me by the tutors.The reading has been a great pleasure.Accidentally I went to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition twice. Once before and once after the course. I loved it both times but it was really a treat to see it the second time. I’m unsure if it was great because the curating artist was Grayson Perry whose work and words I adore or great because I was really geared up to look at contemporary art this summer. Either way it felt like the best RA Summer Exhibition I had seen. Taking all these things into consideration as well as the Abstract Intensive Course . I feel some change is afoot for my work. I’ve realised that when I paint my abstracts they are not only representations of how I see the subject but also how I think and feel about it. My way of applying an image on my newly acquired art boards (with thanks to Ravi Bains who made them https://www.endgrainsurfaces.com/contact/) may not look so very different from my usual style but my thinking will have taken some more intriguing routes to get there. In the next few weeks I’m going to have a virtual ‘Open Studio’ to sell off this summers returners before I get down to some serious painting in September.
Concrete Rock Pools from the previous blog and inspired by a visit to Trebah ,on the Helford River https://www.trebahgarden.co.uk/has been finished. Some rusty old iron stripes and some fragile bubble shapes add to the glorious Mediterranean colours that were such a part of the summer of 2018 . It was a great place to contemplate War and Peace.

Abstract Intensive.Reflection #1 Early August

Following the last blog which was in essence a review of the Abstract Intensive Course at Falmouth University www.falmouth.ac.uk this blog is much more of a personal reflection. More like a diary of how the course is affecting my practice

I accidentally fell into painting abstracts during my degree in Fine Art. Prior to my foundation course I was very much a landscape painter. The beauty of foundation courses is the requirement to try a lot of different styles and to form ideas on which direction to travel once on the degree. My first foray into abstraction came almost by accident, I was struggling to express my reaction to the events of 9/11 and found abstraction to be the easiest tool in my limited skill box.( An earlier blog Bloggers Block covers a similar theme) https://theoldmortuary.design/2018/03/15/blogblock-spring-clean Abstraction worked then and I’ve largely stuck with it.

Reading books about abstraction and following abstract artists seemed only to take me so far, and it certainly got me through my degree. It got my work into galleries and exhibitions, into people homes and serendipitously one of my pieces of work was shown at Tate Modern . With more time to paint and think I was thrilled to find a dedicated Abstract course not to far from home. Time to learn Abstract techniques first hand.

My particular interest is the interaction of man made structures on landscapes and nature’s constant bid to overwhelm and reclaim supremacy, Nature always wins.

This is the start of my first painting after the course.

It’s working title is Concrete Rock Pools. The Southwest of Britain is a rich source of concrete, built quickly during WW2, used only briefly during the preparation for the Normandy Landings. 80 years of weather and tides have broken it down leaving concrete and rusty iron that forms rock pools that are part natural and part man made.

This will be a different painting from one I would have done on the same subject a month ago, before the course. The impact of a week-long intensive course shows itself in this painting in small ways. Marginal gains is the sport psychology terminology for small improvements in performance.That phrase works equally well in Art. Measuring my own marginal gains may simply be taking time for recognising and reflecting and then developing confidence in those changes.

Having largely worked out my own methods of abstraction from practise, reading and observing other artists work it was great to have this book recommended at Falmouth.

I’ve been stealing an idea for abstraction for years from a completely unknown artist. I’ve always felt a little guilty about that. The author of these books, Austin Kleon cured me of my guilt. Both the book and the journal are well written with simple tips. I’m sure the strategies in these books are useful applied to many areas of life not just art.I bought mine cheaply from www.abebooks.co.uk

( My guilty steal happened at porteliotfestival.com A life drawing class was being taught in one of the tents. The model was posing, lit by some shafts of sunshine piercing through small holes in the canvas roof.There were some cracking images being created by the small group of artists. One artist however was writing a stream of descriptive sentences. Really beautiful words that were accurately reflecting the change of light,texture and nuanced shapes on the models beautiful body. I’ve used this technique many times when an image doesn’t quite flow from mind to canvas or when it is impossible to recreate natural beauty with a photograph, I just take some time out to write what I see and how it makes me feel. It really helps to get me out of a painting rut if I read these notes)

The relevancy of permission to steal to the above painting is all about fear really. I want to get both rust and and tiny sun bursts into this painting. The potential for error is great particularly when I’m happy with the first painted layer. Time to research abstract sunbeams and rust.