An iterative process

Developing a body of work is a strongly iterative process for me. I start with an idea and play with it, refining and revising until I have a huge pile of works, especially if I’m working on paper. Perhaps only 30% of those works will make the final cut.

The final works often bear no resemblance to the initial ones; sometimes I can only ‘feel’ the linkages, not really see them. But the linkages are there, because each work is a visual representation of the ideas in my head. When I am deeply engrossed in a body of work there are repeating colours, shapes, lines and patterns that appear over and over, often without my being aware of it at the time.

My process is really about the process, not the final image. A lot of my current works are small – either A6 (4.5×6”) or A5 (9×6”) on beautiful Hahnemuhle watercolour paper. I might have 10 or 20 pieces of paper on the go all at once. I put down colour on each piece in layers, then work back into them making marks, adding patterns or collage – back and forth amongst the pile, strewing them all round me as I work. It’s messy and intuitive.

Choosing pieces for on the advertising ahead of time is stressful because I don’t know what the final works will be. But choose I must – and I have. Dimmie, who I am exhibiting with, is going to produce the poster etc with her awesome design skills.

The photos show some of the possible works, and a pile of works I’ve done to date. 

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hokitika gorge works.jpg

Working on the Hokitika Gorge

Over the weekend I spent some time working on slightly larger paintings inspired by the Hokitika Gorge, following my visit after Easter. These are on Hahnemuhle 300lb watercolour paper using heavy body acrylics and water soluble crayons. I love the granularity of some of the mark making.

Do I know what the shapes mean to me yet? No! But that’s okay. I’m happy to sit with not knowing, because that’s often how my art works. What I do know is that the shapes are embedded in what I’m doing and critical to the works.

west coast 1west coast 2west coast 3

 

 

Trusting my intuition

In November I visited the Hokitika Gorge and fell in love with the clear blue water so it quickly became the subject of a joint exhibition I have planned for this November. The works will show the iterative process I use to get to the final works.

Recently I had the chance to visit the Gorge again. In packing art supplies I chose my basics – Phthalo turquoise, cobalt teal, gold, white Heavy Body Golden acrylics. I kept reaching for Golden Fluid Titan Pale Green – an odd pale green grey beige. Not the colour of the works I’ve been doing at all. I put it away, then got it out again; in the end I decided it was such a small bottle I’d take it with me.

I started doing small backgrounds before I went back to the Gorge and kept using that colour. My brain was saying it was wrong – my hand, and my intuition – were determined though.

I stayed with Alan Fowlie, a family friend, and before he took me to the Gorge he warned me the water might not be that amazing blue because of floods 3 weeks prior. Ok, sure. When we got to the gorge and I got my first fresh glimpse of the water I was stunned. Yes, you guessed right … the water was the exact colour I’d been creating.

Incredible! That’s what happens when I am fully tuned into a subject and immerse myself in creating without overriding my intuition. It’s a lovely place to be, and involves letting go of control.

Hokitika 1Hokitika 2hokitika 3hokitika 4hokitika may 2019

 

The images in my head

Some of the gelli prints I did yesterday *needed* me to do some more work on them 😉

I’m using hand painted papers as collage materials  to add circles. I suspect they echo the rocks I saw at Hokitika Gorge but I’m not sure. That’s the thing with my art process – it’s intuitive and iterative. The first few tentative works in a series and the final pieces are often worlds apart and, for many people, the final works have little or no relation to the initial inspiration. And I’m totally ok with that.

The collaged shapes are very specific. I have quite large sheets of randomly painted papers and when I cut a shape it is carefully chosen for the colours. Then I test the shape on the base work and sometimes trim a millimeter or two off here and there, more than once, before it feels right!

What I know of this Hokitika series is there’s some distinct colours, lines and shapes that are appearing over and over again. I’m still working quite small – these are about 6″ square – but will work bigger eventually.

gelli hokitika gorge 20190311 agelli hokitika gorge 20190311 b

 

Get your gelli on

I love gelli printing, and have taught it in the past. I’m going to be teaching it again this winter, in Greymouth, and am really looking forward to it. I may do some more classes here in South Taranaki too.

In the meantime, I have a joint exhibition booked for the Lysaght Watt Gallery in October with Dimmie Danielwski – I’ll be using some existing works but also making a new body of work based on my visit to the Hokitika Gorge last year.

With those two things in mind, I’ve been doing some gelli printing. I’ll use the captions to explain what these are.

gelli 201490310 a

Multiple layers using stencils.

gelli 201490310 b

Multiple layers using stencils.

gelli 201490310 c

Using a final layer of paint to pull all the leftover texture off the plate.

gelli 201490310 d

A more painterly approach, using a brayer and the end of a paint brush.

gelli 201490310 e

A more painterly approach, using a brayer and the end of a paint brush.

gelli 201490310 f

Single layer print using a gel texture plate. 

gelli 201490310 g

Single layer print using a gel texture plate. 

gelli gorge 20190310 a

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

gelli gorge 20190310 b

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

gelli gorge 20190310 c

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

gelli gorge 20190310 d

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

The art in my head

In November I spent a few days in Greymouth and Hokitika, and visited Hokitika Gorge. The shapes and colours have invaded my mind & are appearing in my art.

When I did my final (4th) year at The Learning Connection a few strong marks emerged, including a sort of curved power pole with a cross beam, normally in cream. (I can’t find an image of these works anywhere)

I’m finding those marks have reappeared in a new form – this time as a cross with some tiny hatchmarks near it, a cross and some hatchmarks inside a circle, and a curved pair of parallel lines with a cross beam. The circle / oval are featuring too, and are fairly new to me in terms of consistent use.

I’ve shown below some works from 2008, and some of the new works I’ve been doing, which are gelli prints as a base with mark making in subsequent layers. Looking at these, the connection between the 2008 marks, and today’s marks, isn’t as obvious as I thought it would be … 

(in other news, I think my scanner glass needs a good clean)

West Coast V.jpg

Catching up – Hokitika & art

Last weekend I was in Hokitika visiting my friend Penny, seeing Hokitika Gorge and making art. If you want to know more about it, check out my FB page.

I’ve been catching up on my usual art stuff, getting a little more prepared for Christmas, and ‘clearing’ the decks ready for a day of print making inspired by the trip. I want to make some print to sell, not just throw in the drawer like I normally do!

Here’s some of my recent catch-up journalling. A pen I was using bled, I tried to fix it, it got worse – then I got wet paint on the scanner glass and didn’t notice! Oh well…in the end it’s only paper, paint & glue…

dyary 2611201802122018week 47week 48dyary 01122018.jpghearts dont break