I'm back in the studio after what seems like forever away from having a permanent space to call my own. I have spent the summer months reading, researching and writing in anticipation. I'm really looking forward to truly dedicating myself this year and I plan to put in lots of hours to make the work I'm desperate to make.
Since moving myself into my studio last Monday I have been in every day when I haven't been at work, trying to get into the habit of a regular routine. I spoke with my new tutor Virginia Verran in my first one-to-one session about what I've been doing so far and where I'd like my practice to be headed this year. After expressing my interest in doing more field based research to inform my work, she pointed me in the direction of a few 'walking artists' who use the practical elements of walking as the basis for making.
Richard Long in particular was a name that stood out to me from our discussion. Long is an artist who makes art by walking in the landscape. He makes then photographs sculptures on his travels using natural materials, particularly rocks, and also writes visual poetry from his experiences. His drawings encompass an almost obsessive, repetitive mark making, which could be seen to mirror the repetitive action of putting one foot in front of the other for miles and miles.
After researching him, I've been thinking about planning a walking trip in which I will photograph, sketch and write about the journey I am making. It will be intriguing to see how I cope with pushing myself to do something that will stretch my limits both physically and mentally. Ideally I would walk during the day and camp during the night, but I lack both camping equipment and the courage to do so - alone, at least. Over the next week I'll be planning a walk and finding a suitable, cheap hotel to stay in for the night. I'm both excited and terrified for this aspect of my work, but I know that to make work that I am fully engaged with, I need to take risks and do things that scare me.
Hopefully, the data that is collected from that trip will emerge into a new group of paintings in this mapping series. In the meantime, however, studio work is well underway for my current group of works, 'Mapping the Waterlands'.
I have been looking at my photographs critically and making ink drawings from them in the studio this week, sourcing information from both the shadows I observe in the imagery and from the notes I made in my journal back when I took the original photographs. The drawings so far have consisted of inky blues and blacks, with diaphanous veils of diluted inky water (or, rather, leftover cold filter coffee). With these drawings, I made digital diptych mock-ups with my black and white photographs. I liked how these looked and wanted to try to take the idea further, to a larger scale.
I spent the next day working on a large wood board which I found in a skip on campus, trying to re-create the ink paper drawings from the day before but on a much larger scale. 6 hours on the board ended up being 5 hours too many... I've always struggled with knowing when to stop with painting. Even though I am a huge admirer of minimalistic art, I tend to overwork paintings on a regular basis, past the point of repair. The spontaneity I achieved in the small ink drawings was lost in translation when attempting to work to a larger scale.
At the end of the day, feeling pretty down about the fact I had wasted a whole day with no outcome, I decided to photograph the parts of the painting that I did like and use these to make some more diptychs, digitally constructing them with my photographs on Photoshop.
The response I have received from these works so far has been encouraging. The diptych element is something I am going to continue working with for a long while. I like the fact that through combining two media in one work I am able to communicate a dialectical view of the world.
At the end of the day, nothing in the natural world exists in isolation. Everything is in some sort of dualistic relationship; particularly nature and man, which links back to my interest in Psychogeography.
The photographs are representative of a kind of visual reality whilst the second part of the diptych acts as an opposing force in the work as a whole; an alternative comment on the world and my experience in it as an artist. If I was working in a single unit the works could only be read in a closed structure - a single painting giving the idea that I am only interpreting my subject in a singular way. The diptych composition allows me to work with a greater framework, recording both external and internal observations of the world.