Process has always been an important aspect of studio practice to me, but the emphasis I place on it is even more so now that I am making my own materials.
The rock powder pigments I have been making thus far have been working really well on paper, but I've struggled with their transparency in canvas works. They have left me unsatisfied.
I've been doing some research into alternative methods of processing the pigments and have decided to start incorporating a small amount of limestone powder/calcium carbonate into the mix. Not only will this make the paint more opaque when mixed with gum arabic, but it will also work as a filler and thus help the concentrated pigment particles to stretch further on canvas.
The greatest hurdle this week has been figuring out how to translate these rock powder pigments into canvas pieces. I adore making the 3D and 2D collages - and these will still have a place in my studio practice, but I want them to sit alongside canvas paintings and the sculptural/photographic/drawing elements of my practice, too.
As spoken about with Lucy in my last tutorial, I plan to take these close-up photographs of my 3D collage compositions and move these into paintings. Now I have a plan to make my paints a little more opaque, I am thinking back to the paintings I made in first year, when completely enamoured with Ian McKeever's work.
I have always loved working in layers, which is evident still from my love of collage. However, in first year my practice was focused on the layering of paint and colours to create depth and dimension in a piece.
I'd like to return to these techniques I seem to have 'lost' along the way in these new paintings but with more organic, minimalistic shapes, leaving glimpsws of raw fabric and negative space on the canvas, too.
Yesterday I took a field trip to gather materials for making but also to gather my thoughts and concepts before diving headfirst into a new body of work. I re-visted Durgan, my current field work site, which was completely deserted for most of the morning I spent working there.
I unpacked my materials and warmed up by making some frottage trace drawings on paper of the rock faces. I made ten of these in total, pinning them to the sloping rock face with stones found on the beach floor.
The tide had just gone out so as I pressed the paper down onto the rock faces to take graphite impressions, natural, inverse prints were made on the back of the paper, too...
After I made the drawings I set about collecting some new rocks, stones and pebbles for later grinding into pigments when back at the studio. Now I've started getting to grips with the new medium, I knew what rocks would be best suited to the process. I found some incredible rusty reds, bright oranges and burnt ochres amongst other sand-stoney tones and muted bluey-greys.
The final part of the trip was dedicated to taking some larger traces of the rock faces. Pinning the canvas onto the surfaces I wished to draw upon with the rocks around me, I started rubbing my graphite stick all over the fabric.
There is something therapeutic about this process that I have come to love so much. There is a real sense of getting to know a landscape through the rubbing of surfaces, conscious movement and sense of purpose within the landscape. Watching the rocks make their mark slowly upon the blank sheets of raw canvas, re-telling a story of the landscape's topography...
I have just three weeks before I embark on my residency in Wales. Ahead of that, I plan to make real headway with the Durgan works, as well as writing my dissertation and planning for Wales.
When back from Wales, I will obviously been spending a lot of time working on the materials collected from my trip there, ahead of my studio deadline in January. My plan post-deadline is to re-visit a site to make new work about. It is exactly a year ago I start to make work 'out in the field' - my first site being the headland at Swanpool. I haven't visited in months. It seems like time to return, to re-visit, to re-evaluate with new materials, methods and ideas, one year on.