Over the past couple of weeks I have been working on the third and final series in the Kowansow Collection; the Geevor paintings.
After a successful field work trip to Geevor, I processed ten samples into pigments and set to work building, stretching and starting the canvas’
I have also been working on the Geevor mini paintings. The colours are deep, muddy and earthy - so different to the colours I have obtained from the Bissoe and Trenoweth pigments. I now have 30 of these mini paintings in total - 10 from each location.
I get a lot of satisfaction from painting them, perhaps even more so than the larger ones on some days. They are just so tactile - they can be held easily which not only makes them easier to work on than the larger paintings but it allows closer inspection of the smaller details...
Not long after I started the new paintings, I had a tutorial with Lucy. We spoke about how much time I have left and that I may consider taking a bit of time away from the bigger paintings to do some drawings and some thinking. I took that time. Alongside drawing, I thought about how I could approach these final pieces in alternative ways. Since the little break I had, I have been playing with different methods of paint application.
I have tried working more with my palette knife and have also returned to working with rollers, something I did a lot of work with in first year. Using these techniques alongside using my brushes has allowed me to be more gestural, free and loose in these newer paintings. I tried giving one of the pieces an ‘underpainting’ too, before I added the layer of paint that is poured on and spread around the canvas. These new ways of working allow me to keep thinking about the next thing I can try, pushing my practice and making sure I don't just play it safe.
I have been doing some research on varnishing recently, too. Some of the paints I have made are ever so slightly fragile in the sense that if water is rubbed into them, they come away from the canvas surface - unlike traditional oils or acrylics. I’m trying to figure out the best way to seal the surfaces of the paintings without losing the earthy feel of them and have come to the conclusion that matt varnishing may be my best option.
I obviously want to make sure I get the right varnish - one that is effective but also as non-toxic as possible. It is impossible to get an 100% natural varnish so I need to compromise on that to some extent. It would of course be preferable to not use a varnish at all, but if it would protect the paintings and allow them to last for longer - to preserve the pigments completely and protect them from UV damage and physical damage from handling - it may well be worth it...
Something else I am currently in the process of is the planning of a side project titled ‘Colours of Abisko’. It is a project I am embarking on with a friend of mine, Darcy, who studies Environmental Sciences at Stirling University.
Darcy has sent me samples from his dissertation research field work and I am making a mosaic comparing the dry and wet forest and tundra soils to show damages of climate change. More information on this to come in a new, separate post. An exciting collaboration combining my artistic practice with Darcy's scientific knowledge and our mutual respect for our environment.