The Start of A Series / Abstract Painting Seminar

I was ill and flat-bound with tonsillitis last week so didn’t spend nearly as much time in uni as I would have liked, but after a scarily hefty dosage of antibiotics I’m feeling much better. I'm back in my studio and ready to make a real headway with my work.

I started this new week in the studio painting over a previous painting from last semester, priming it ready for some new work. In between applying layers of gesso primer to the MDF, I worked in my little collage sketchbook making more of these fictitious portraits of the Cornish coast. I also had a tidy of my workspace, which left me feeling a lot more positive about the week ahead. Tidy space, tidy mind…

In my painting sketchbook, I drew out plans of how I will translate these collages into a larger scale painting. I decided I would still keep elements of collage within the painting, including layering my etchings with mono prints and the inky/pastel lines I am making in my sketchbook work. Bringing forward my use of a roller and masking tape into this new perspective on landscape painting was also something I was willing to trial.

On Wednesday before my morning lecture, I attended a seminar with my previous tutor Mark whose paintings I really admire. The seminar introduced me to the work of abstract painters I hadn't yet discovered; discussing the artists' processes and the working behind the paintings sparked my interest in paint again. The seminar came at a pivotal moment, given that I was just beginning to embark on a new painting working with some of the ideas coming from my collages. The best part of the talk for me was getting to see images of Mark's new paintings from his recent three month residency at Porthmeor studios and hearing him talk about his time there.

After the seminar I cracked on with my own work. Spending time with collage has given me a new appreciation for the process of painting - I have been putting down the layers of paint in a more considered way in comparison to my previous work. Constantly referring to my collage sketchbook, photographs from my travels and the coastal line drawings I have made, the painting has slowly began to take shape.

Recycling marks made in my collage sketchbook and translating them to this larger scale has worked better than I had imagined. I was worried the marks would be lost given the size of the board I'm painting on but they have actually given an organic, painterly element to the blocks of colour and collaged shapes they accompany.

Towards the end of the painting, I did struggle to find a point where I was happy. To my eye, the panel either looked too busy, like too much was going on, or too simple and unfinished. I spent a good 5 hours this afternoon working out these little hurdles - painting, re-painting, collaging, drawing, painting over areas again and again. The piece has morphed ever so slightly a myriad of times in this single afternoon.

Finally, after much frustration, I got to a point I was happy with. Determined not to over work it, I've decided to leave the piece for now and re-evaluate the work on Monday morning with fresh eyes. For the time being though, the first piece inspired by my collage work of the Cornish coast is finished. I'm hoping a series of these will emerge in the coming weeks before the Easter break.