Consider this space the reflective journal of my artistic practice as I begin my 3 year Fine Art university career. My first Strategies for Practice workshop today required me to look through various briefs, questions and idea generators in order to begin my creative practice here in Cornwall at the Falmouth School of Art. The brief that caught my imagination which I decided to pursue was titled 'Try thinking, then not thinking.'
I researched artist and musician Martin Creed, taking particular interest in his song 'Thinking / Not Thinking', alongside watching video interviews linked from his website. Creed explained that he was endlessly inspired by music in the making of his work and that making art, just how life is lived, is simply made up of thinking and not thinking.
He said that "I can’t separate what I see from what I hear” and his contemporary pieces are a prime example of this; the shapes representing musical scales and rhythms. He told Paul Morely that art "has to be made, just like a piece of music has to be made. Instructions are just the means to help you make the thing…”. In a clichéd nutshell, the 'rules' of art are made to be broken. When speaking about his abstracts, Creed also said that “often times in the middle of making I think 'this just looks shit'… but the painter Richer said he wanted his art to be stupid, like nature. I think that's nice, the thought that you could make something that’s weird and that, you know, you don’t understand.”
As a young artist trying to find her feet in the world of contemporary art, for me, the process of making is very similar in this way. When I make a piece of art I switch between thinking about each specific mark that I am making, to not thinking and making reckless marks that can sometimes be seen by myself as mistakes or sometimes seen as unintentionally successful decisions. These decisions are the essence of abstraction for me; the unconscious processes combined with conscious decisions to make a finished piece of work.
So, in order to generate material from this brief and my ideas derived from it, I decided to make lots of marks using various different mediums such as paint, pencils, pens, pastels and ink to form large sheets of unconscious marks - made whilst listening to differing genres of music from a Spotify playlist. Perhaps my unconscious mind would be swayed by the volume of the music in the silence of my conscious thoughts?
The genres of music, just as would be predicted by Creed, did indeed influence my mark making and colour choice. With my headphones in and music turned up loud enough to block any of my conscious thoughts that may creep in to influence what colour I should use next and where, I let the music guide my decisions. The electronic sounds of CHVRCHES led to psychedelic colours emerging in the abstracts. Purity Ring inspired me to add dream-like pinks and free and loose marks over the surface of the paper. The Weeknd and Lana Del Ray changed my palette to muted blues, greens and greys, with a greater emphasis on watercolour washes as opposed to the vibrant and pigmented acrylic strokes of CHVRCHES.
With these pieces of cartridge paper, filled with marks I created without thinking but by being swayed by the influence of music and sound, I intended to consciously finish the piece by thinking about what I was doing. I cut out geometric shapes of the abstracted marks, and composed them into a new jigsaw type piece, taking care to give reasoning as to where I was placing each component of the final piece. After assembling and re-assembly a few times, I had an outcome I was happy with.
My first full day of studio practice was inspiring. Being in a studio environment with other like-minded individuals allowed me to think in new, experimental ways without the constraints of the A Level Fine Art specification. I'm looking forward to discovering the things I can achieve in this first year at Falmouth.