So far in the studio this week I have been working on a second large canvas piece for the Durgan collection. There does feel like there is something 'missing' in these pieces though - and I can't quite place it. In order to take a break, I decided to work on some small paper collage pieces.
In these collages I began by just using the stone motif cut-outs, but then became enamoured by the negative spaces that came to be through creating them. The offcuts and inverted space were introduced into the compositions after the second piece was made.
I got into a workflow with them and within the space of a few hours I had composed around 18 collages from my palette of rock pigments and selections of paper frottage from Durgan I also had to hand.
The collages I have been making in the studio this week have acted as a stepping stone for realising my next area of interest. I worked on a larger collage, then my interest was turned towards the pieces of paper I had painted the rock pigments on initially.
Once simply A3 size and rectangular, they had began to take on abstract shapes from my cuttings. Shapes missing from the middle of the papers, the edges and pieces torn, too. Pinned to the wall as separate papers, I brought them together and pinned them in a composition so that the layers of colour and shape interwove and became a sort of maquette for a three-dimensional collage.
This afternoon I had a tutorial with Lucy and it got me thinking more about these three-dimensional collages. I am so drawn to 'parts' of things. The photographs I take of works in progress in the studio are almost always close ups of the pinned collages, or a detail on a larger canvas work...
The abstract parts of things that are presented as a 'whole' are what really interest me and are what my eye is drawn to. Lucy suggested that I should use these detail photographs as compositions for painting forms.
My next line of enquiry in the studio is to make a series of collages pinned to the wall, with their cut outs and negative space, layered on top of one another. I will photograph these, with the light and shadows they cast, as finished pieces of work. These abstract forms in no way depict landscape visually, but they certainly now feel 'right' as landscapes to me - due to the origin of their material and the process in which the shapes came to be.
I have always been a little afraid of abstraction and working with abstract shapes - perhaps because I hadn't got to a place within my own practice where I felt comfortable working within those parameters. However, that sort of art is the work I feel most drawn to as a viewer. Etel Adnan, for example. There is something so pleasing about her use of colour, her minimalistic block paintings that depict landscape so minimally but so considerably.
My tutorial also made me think more about what I mean by 'spatial relationships' and what I want to achieve by investigating the spaces in between 'things'. By losing the evident 'horizon line' that dominated as a motif in my previous works, I have been able to move forward and work with alternate forms.
However, by working with negative space I have almost abandoned the idea of working to the edges of a canvas. The tutorial raised questions such as how we, as human-beings, occupy space - particularly a natural, outdoor space. Landscapes are not bound by edges, so really neither should a landscape painting.
The 'spaces in between' within a landscape are limitless and also completely ephemeral. The spaces between stones on a pebble beach such as Durgan, for example. They are transitory spaces that shape-shift and morph as the landscape moves with and around them. These 'spaces' aren't tangible - so working to the edges of a canvas or a page allows the work to act as a door for the viewer. A sort of portal to look deeply into a space as opposed to trying to depict an entire landscape within the limitations of a canvas frame. Spaces to look into and spaces to occupy, inviting a viewer to experience a unique encounter of place through true, deep and raw colours and forms.