On Monday I moved into a beautiful studio at Grays Wharf, Penryn, for a residency that runs throughout July. I am using the space whilst Jon Doran, who usually works there, is away studying at the Florence Academy of Art.
A few weeks ago I went on a field trip to Levant, to collect pigments to use specifically in the body of work I had planned to make on this residency. I managed to collect a bit of oxidised copper too, which has given my palette a wonderful blue/green/olive addition.
I spent Monday morning unpacking the studio, settling in and processing all my samples into paint. The afternoon was for experimentation, testing out my new pigments - as I didn't yet have any canvas in the studio. I managed to find a few scraps that I was able to stretch over an existing frame. I played with consistency of the paint itself, mark-making and use of brushes/alternative tools. It was good to play around and not worry too much about the outcome.
I also made a selection of pigment swatches on Monday afternoon, which I uploaded onto my online shop in the evening. The swatches sold out within 18 hours, which is incredible. These little sales all add up and help me to fund materials to make new work - I am incredibly grateful to anybody who purchases my work, big or small.
I also trialled an idea I have had for a while now - making prints with my pigments. I have a metal plate from my first year and so I did a few trials, rolling the ink onto the plate and rubbing areas away with brushes and rags.
The first few prints I made were successful in a technical sense but I still have a long way to go with them. I'm excited to be back working with printmaking; it is a form of making I really enjoyed in my first year but I ruled it out when I started working with my natural pigments. It's amazing to finally be able to combine the two.
On Tuesday I picked up my canvas and set about stretching ready for my new paintings. I put the first layers down on two 34 x 42" paintings.
The pigments I have processed for this series are much more vivid than my degree show paintings, which had a pastel, chalk-like quality to them. This is due to the fact that I have left whiting chalk out of my paint recipe - so the pigments are a lot more dense, rich and intense.
I am working on loosening up my painting on this residency, ahead of my longer residency at CAST which starts in September. I love abstract painting - but for some reason I always convince myself I am not worthy of painting in such a way. I feel I have to justify it and thus, landscape-like motifs seem to creep into my visual vocabulary.
This is fine, but I am aware that it's holding back my work to some extent. I want to push myself and my work that little bit further. I want to let the sense of wildness in landscape dictate the paintings rather than any intentional visual depictions, like sloping hills or sky and land.
Wednesday was a bit of a weird day - I had a meeting at CAST in the afternoon and a coffee meeting in the morning so studio time was a little sporadic. I managed to get a few new paintings started though and continued working on the two I had already begun.
I work best when I have a fair few paintings on the go at the same time - it means when a painting is drying I can work on something else and I don't ruin anything by overworking it.
My new body of work from my residency at Grays Wharf will be titled ‘Moon’. Moon is the Cornish word for mineral and harks to the Cornish pigments that colour the work.
The oxidised copper I managed to collect has brought a new energy to these paintings in the first few days of working on them. Subtle dashes of colour here and there, some bold and some hidden beneath layers of something else. Akin to the presence of the pigment in it’s original landscape at Levant.
I have a break from the studio for the next few days as I am working - which is a good opportunity to spend my free time journalling, planning and evaluating work so far ahead of studio time again next week.
Next week I will be focusing on existing paintings, working on some drawings and making some progress on my printmaking. Oh, and enjoying my 21st birthday on Wednesday!