We are a pattern-seeking species, and this is never more evident than in the career of any long-term established artist. From signature brush-strokes to colour meanings and even position and juxtaposition of objects, patterns are evident within any body of work. Evolution from disjointed works of art to art with purpose, evolution and a timeline doesn’t happen overnight, but sometimes it does seem to happen by accident. Look at Van Gogh’s early works, thickly pasted potato peel and dripping in mud-hues, or Marc or Monet’s early experiments with muted hues and brush strokes.
We all have our comfort zone, our comfort colours, even if we don’t necessarily have our feet on the ground artistically.
Purple is a colour that was once prized for its rarity, instability and its costliness. The colour purple is not overly feminine or masculine, and it doesn’t come into my daily life at all. I don’t own any piece of purple furniture, fabric, home decor, pottery or flowers. Yet it seems to be becoming the dominant colour in my watercolours.
This colour has the ability to hold a painting together; it transforms something black into something solid, alive and that interacts with its environment. It can be used for hard and soft equally well. When used with complementary colours it transforms into depth, shadow, and light.
A brilliant piece of advice I came across recently is that you need to learn about your own art history, not just that of the Great Masters and contemporary artists, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
I often work within specific themes or phases, but most recently these have been troubling me somewhat, and I’m trying to take a few steps back before I find the next big theme or style, but I can feel it stirring! So, now is as good a time as ever to talk about where my art came from.
It was in 2008 – 2009 when I first painted on canvas, and whilst early attempts were nothing to write home about it terms of technique, I love them for their rawness, their touches of surrealism and their honesty. I was painting what I felt like, with pretty much a disregard for rules.
This painting, Synesthesia, explores the difficult and complex ties between our senses, and I believe was inspired by either a poem I wrote, or a conversation I had with a friend. Just as senses become blurred and intertwined, so is the specific memory of this piece. In execution it’s fairly poor, but I’d love to explore this theme again taking on what I’ve gathered over the last 8 years.
Moving on then, and it’s easy to see from experiments in surrealism where my next source of inspiration came from. Around this time I was fascinated by Palaeolithic cave art, and understanding where art and techniques came from as well as the significance of nature and animals in art. The piece above shows greater confidence with colour, handling of the paint and composition. In fact this was my first piece to sell at an exhibition.
I even started using natural materials such as shells, sand, stones and feathers on my paintings (though unfortunately not much photo evidence survives).
I’d say it took me four years to get properly into my stride; then there was this:
This piece put in to practice the influence that the cave painters and Franz Marc had somehow blended together in my brain. A combination of bold colour and line with simple structural elements to create a sense of the animal, the subject of the piece. Inspired by Lascaux’s Panel of the Chinese Horse and Red Cow, this is where art truly began its astonishing journey, and I guess in a way where mine started too.
Then became softer, more brushy and using colour to evoke mood…and this was all in the same year!
Then the works became even more textured, but with more colour control.
In 2014, I turned to painting people, and decided to highlight some of the endangered peoples and cultures all over the world, and once again the painting style changed drastically, becoming freer, and adapting to the different needs of the subject.
In 2015, things became a little weirder. A series of events, preoccupations and responsibilities took over for a while, and I think that reflects in my art. There were less concrete themes and styles, less experimenting and perhaps a little bit more fantastic indulging.
As for 2016, for now I’m going to leave this chapter in my little art history unpublished. It’s too early to tell…