My fifth day at Maelor was a little different. After four days of a set routine, where I had been heading out on my field work trips early in the morning then returning to the studio in the afternoon, Sunday was a full studio day.
On the previous days, once I had got back to Maelor after my field work trips, the Winter daylight would only leave me about four hours until the light started to fade.
Due to the extra hours I had, I worked on my paintings solidly throughout the day and ended up finishing them all before the sun went down. I tidied up my brushes and pigments and in the evening, I went out for a wonderful meal with my fellow artist in residence, Patricia and the founder of Maelor, Veronica.
My sixth day at Maelor ended up being a free day - I had finished all the work I had set out to do on my residency here. I decided to use the extra time to do a bit of touristy stuff.
I headed down into town to visit the MOMA gallery in Machynlleth and to go to my favourite vegetarian cafe, The Quarry, for one last cup of coffee and slice of cake.
I was amazed that two of the artists showing at MOMA, Neil Canning and Kim Dewsbury, had ties to Cornwall. Kim even did the Fine Art course at Falmouth. There must be something about this part of Wales and Cornwall that draw certain creative people to them. I even met someone at a little health food store who had previously worked at the same shop in Falmouth I do!
The rest of Monday was spent packing up my paintings and my other materials ready for the train journey home early the next day. I did, however, manage to sneak a bit of drawing in too. I had been so focused on my paintings for the majority of the residency that I did very little drawing, other than technical sketches of compositions for paintings.
It felt good to sit at my desk, working from both photograph and memory and make some smaller pieces of work about the landscape. They felt more intimate and peaceful than my vast canvas paintings.
Since being back in Falmouth, I have been busy finishing up my dissertation, stretching paintings from Wales and then photographing them for a website update. Upon stretching the paintings, I got a better feel for how they really looked. When unstretched, the image almost got 'lost' in the canvas material.
I've had a couple of tutorials and a group crit since being back in Falmouth. I showed my new paintings in these crits and the general consensus from Lucy and my peers was in line with the things I'd been thinking since I'd been back.
I'm proud of these paintings from Wales. I really pushed myself to make them and they will always remind me of my first residency. However since I got back to Falmouth and stretched them, I realised that I had been relying on the familiar format of the paintings for a year now. Although I've moved onto different mediums, teaching myself from tutorials and books how to make my own pigments from rocks and earth, I do feel like I have over-used the frottage element in my paintings.
Although it's something I've had in my artistic vocabulary for a while now, in retrospect when critiquing these paintings, I didn't feel like it needed to be there. The painting element was more far more exciting for me, in terms of both the finished product and the process behind it all.
In my next body of paintings, I'm going to leave the frottage behind and instead focus on the process of painting. I'll be forgetting the methods and materials that have defined my work thus far, as I fear they may hold my work back if I cling on to them for too long. I'm looking forward to simply making an abstract painting and seeing where it takes me, rather than having the safety net of a format that I have clung to for the past year.
I will still be hand-stitching into the work. However, this time it will act purely as a form of mark making, not a way to stitch the grid-like panels of frottage and pigment together. The stitching will be derived from organic lines found in landscape, taken from my line drawings, watching the tide and following the horizon line...
In our crit we also talking about how the painterly elements from the rock pigments felt as if they were shifting - and hinted to the ever changing, ephemeral landscapes I work in. After the discussion I realised that that's what my main concern is with my practice at present. I want to imbue a sense of time spent within place in open and organic paintings. The frottage seems to be holding the viewer back from experiencing the paint fully. I want the canvas' to act as a viewfinder into the feeling of being in a place.