Christmas Break / Away-From-The-Studio Update

I came away from Falmouth with a myriad of ideas to trial over Christmas. I became frustrated at first when nothing was working but a few 2am idea generating sessions led me to the conservatory floor (temporary studio space) to create a couple of new pieces to add to the collection before our studio hand-in at the start of next semester.

Using masking tape and a roller results in a constantly evolving visual dialogue, in which I play with scale, colour and repetition of architectural shapes. I go through phases of being obsessed with different colour combinations although over Christmas break I have been working in a similar colour scheme to my other paintings, allowing for a visual link between the series. Picking colours is usually a spontaneous decision with whatever I’m working on at the time; although I’m working mainly with greys, copper oranges, greens, blues and mustard yellows. I tend to only plan one layer ahead to allow for quick decision making when it comes to colour and composition, resulting in spontaneous works that all differ slightly from one another.

When I was driving home from Cornwall for Christmas, looking out of the window, I found that the rural areas intrigued me. The bleak and desolate houses, odd barns here and there, concrete warehouses and little villages clustered together amidst hills, fields, farms, trees, lakes and moorland. I wanted to find a way in a new piece to represent this different type of architecture - buildings set in the natural and organic landscape as opposed to the town of Falmouth.

Originally, at the start of the Christmas period, I tried to incorporate these ‘blocky’ shapes into a landscape away from the roller, painted using brushes, with scratchy lines and pastel indents into the thicker paint layers to represent the grass and trees, utilising experimental mark making to create the textures and the realities of the landscape amidst the houses I saw on my journey. This way of working is something that stumped me a little - I found it hard to merge the two styles on board the way that they seemed to work in my head. I haven't given up on this idea, I'm still working away at it until something sits right, but continuing to create work using my other ideas for the time being.

I also wanted to continue with the idea of journeys and making the work less about the houses and more about the travelling between the places I call home. The shapes, representing the archtiecture, that piece up to make a jigsaw puzzle of memories on the travels I make between Cornwall and Bedford so often now act as a visual map for not only physical locations but also emotional spaces. The 'Places We Call Home', which I think I will name this series of works. In the pieces I have made over Christmas I have been connecting these 'puzzle pieces' of journey memories through different elements coming together in a final piece through the basics of masking tape and paint layered with other mediums such as pastels, drawing, and map cuttings as methods for navigating the blurry terrain of memory and imagination and architecture.

I wanted to add more textures to give a greater emphasis to the natural, organic thinking behind the works and to represent the blurring of memories of places - scratching through wet paint as a mark making technique and adding expressive pastel marks to the sky. The scratched lines and splashes of water that distort the wet paint as it dries deform the image and mystify it further - like a memory that is distorted or not quite clear. Piecing in fictional things where memories lack in these landscapes that fly by the window of the car, the train or the bus as I make my journey to my 'other home'.

When I get back to uni, after my hand-in, I want to continue making works in this series and explore more of the ideas I have that I haven’t yet exhausted. However, I would also like to extend my studio practice to initiate two other side-projects.

My current work is very large, on 6 foot boards of plywood, so I’d like to do some smaller pieces that would act as sketches on paper; references to the techniques I’m using in my larger works but with white space around the edges of the architectural shapes I’m creating, with looser mark-making incorporated, including using map cut-outs and stitching back into the paper with embroidery thread. My mum mentioned she likes some of the close-up detail photographs of my larger paintings so I’d like to make a mini-series of more minimalistic works similar to these details.

Another series I’d like to create is a collection inspired by my more natural surroundings in Falmouth - still in-keeping with ‘Places We Call Home’ but with looser shapes, brighter tones arising from the beach location and mark-making specifically mirrored from the natural patterns in boulders, clams, seaweed and similar found objects on the Falmouth shore.

Tonight marks the end of 2015. I head back to Cornwall tomorrow evening, after spending a luxurious 4 weeks off, with family and friends. I'm looking forward to getting back to my beautiful term-time home and to make more progress with my studio practice.