Close encounter with signs and symbols

As a teen I loved the movie ‘Close encounters of the Third Kind’. In it lineman Roy Neary, played by Richard Dreyfuss, becomes obsessed by the shape of a mountain, a place he has never been to. He sculpts it out of mashed potatoes, in shaving cream, builds a model out of wire – and finds that others share his obsession. He makes his way to a place protected by the military and witnesses a space ship make contact then land. What does that have to do with my art? Well…

The wall I painted for our final exhibition at TLC.

In my final year at The Learning Connexion I did quite a lot of work with symbols, specifically a (mainly downward) arch shape, a slanted oval and a sort of bent cross / power pole. They mean something to me, but I don’t know what. The arch belongs on its own, the oval and cross belong together. Why? Again, I don’t know, but like Roy I keep exploring them.

I had stopped working with them for a time, but have been looking at my older work and realised I need to keep using them. I realise they are not unique, but they are becoming part of my visual language and being authentic to my true self means exploring them.  Words on their own are not unique, but what a writer or poet does with them often is – and so it is with art. I hope to develop my own language and refine it over time.

Whilst at TLC I produced probably a hundred or more works that started with a photos of some shadows in our driveway that I then worked back onto in paint, replicating some of the lines, again in a curved cross pattern. I lost the photo and started replicating the shape on its own on black backgrounds. Eventually I painted a large wall black and, with no planning or end in mind, I painted huge cream curved crosses it.

Today I have been working on a smaller scale, on postcard sized 300gm watercolour paper, using Golden fluid acrylics, oil pastels, water-soluble pencils and giant poster pens.  Tomorrow I think I’ll work a bit bigger and see what that does.

2 thoughts on “Close encounter with signs and symbols

  1. Fascinating seeing you work with your symbols, and how many ways you are interpreting them here in paint. It’s probably not necessary to know why these come up for you, but wouldn’t it be fun to find out?

    I haven’t given enough thought to what my symbols are, though I do have some notes and sketches over past years that touch on them. Lately a shape has shown up more frequently than others when I do make linear marks. It’s kind of a loose seed shape, or a pod, or could even be a boat maybe. All cocoon-like when you think about it.


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