Kraft, not craft! I love the 6×6 Dina Wakley Media heavy Kraft journals. It’s more like cardstock than paper so paint doesn’t bleed through and the substrate never warps. I’m still playing with creating basic backgrounds, exploring colour and pattern. I’ll go back and journal on the pages eventually but for now I’m enjoying pushing paint around.
Most of my art involves layers. Layers of collage, paint, mark making. Hiding things, revealing others, making some areas stand out. The layers are intuitive and unplanned, my hands working back and forth across the substrate.
I was talking to my friend Penny tonight, who is also an artist. She was talking about an aspect of her process that’s important to her. I commented that, when I’m cutting painted paper for collage, I might cut it multiple times, shaving a few millimeters extra off until it feels just right. The shapes are organic, so you’d think those few millimeters wouldn’t matter – but for me they’re crucial.
When I work in layers I’m happy to give up almost any layer, mark, colour if I need to. Nothing is so good it can’t be covered over. I can always paint another one, cut another one. There’s enormous creative freedom in being able to let go. Yesterday I shared online the layer online seen below and said I was going to start covering up most of it. A few people said “don’t”. Too late, it’s gone…
I’ve been talking with my friend Penny tonight and, as often happens, the art chat circled back to the roots of our addictive natures, which for both of us led to morbid obesity. We also talked about symbolism in our art.
Penny asked why the Patea freezing works and cool stores appear and reappear in my art, even when I’m seemingly concentrating on the Hokitika Gorge colours. It’s an interesting question.
When I was sitting on Alan’s lounge floor in Hokitika contemplating the series of abstract mixed media pieces I was working on I suddenly realised I’d been loosely drawing the shape of the cool stores.
I’m Patea born and bred and, at 56, have only lived away from here for a few years. I left at 18 and came back at 27. This is home. Growing up, the Freezing Works were central to our lives – Dad’s grocery business depended on them in some ways, friend’s parents worked there, friends expected to work there as generations before them had.
The freezing works dominated the landscape as we drove into town from the south – a symbol of home in the same way the maunga is. The freezing works is long gone, demolished after a fire. The cool stores remain, long-abandoned and heavily graffitied.
My addictive nature has its roots in pain essentially, according to Dr Gabor Máte in his book “In the realm of hungry ghosts; close encounters with addiction” and more recently the movie “The wisdom of trauma”. I’ve talked about some, but not all, of that pain before so let’s put that aside.
For me the freezing works and cool stores symbolise home – not just my town or the family home – but Mum, Dad and my sister. They stand for love and safety or, to put it into an addiction/pain context, those buildings represent anti-pain. No wonder my mind pulls fragments of them out all the time…
I was talking with my good friend Penny the other night about white space in our artwork. We often use similar colours and methods but our processes and end results are very different.
My art journals are about “downloading my head”l. Often colour and writing fills the page to overflowing – chaos and emotion in 2D. But my abstract landscape art is different; it’s generally my calm, peaceful view to the seen world. I don’t aim to record, but to respond.
Part of that response is a strong need for quiet space, usually white or maybe Titan Buff. I was working on 12 A4 mixed media and, when I sat back, realised I’d put too much colour on too quickly. Tomorrow I’ll look at them in the daylight. Some very strong darks might increase the sense of light, or they might need white paint added back.
On Sunday Penny and I “worked large” at Left Bank Art Gallery. I worked quite slowly for me, adding pencil, paint, and collage layer by layer – working across 8 panels at once. Next adding marks with NeoPastels, oil pastels and Inktense and finally a Posca for white splashes. Between each layer I sat and looked and thought … sometimes I work without stepping away at all, but not this time. I think the extra space around me encouraged a different way of working.
These are cellphone photos in changeable light so not totally representative but good enough for now. The photo without white edges is detail from the main work, which is 50x76cm on Fabriano Artistico paper, so will need flattening a bit.
I’ve always loved mark making; it’s generally how I add my strongest contrasts. I’m excited about these works, which use the colours of Hokitika Gorge but (to me anyway) have a feel of Mana Bay in Patea as a safe harbour.
I spent today “working large” with Penny Kirk at Left Bank Art Gallery in Greymouth. It was amazing! I had so much fun working alongside Penny – we use similar colours, and even materials, but have very different processes and outcomes. The opportunity to work at a much bigger scale was great; I haven’t worked at this scale since my last year at The Learning Connexion in Wellington.
Tomorrow I’ll try to photograph the finished works and share them. In other news, Tony had a better day and has enjoyed doing his paint by numbers. He’s not feeling 100% tonight but that’s nothing new…
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.
I’ve had an arty sort of day. I’ve worked in my art journals, but also felt inspired to grab a canvas and spread some paint around. Not sure if it’s finished yet, will leave it lying round and see what I think. As usual, there are messages in my art journal pages, which some people will recognise as relating to them…
Last night Tony, Sandra and I went out for dinner then enjoyed the Rocky Horrow Show shadowcast by Flash Mob Taranaki. I haven’t laughed so much in years. “Eddie – drawn, not sketched…”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … at least on my craft desk. As I said to my sister Ailsa last night, why buy 20 Christmas tags for 70c when you can use $100s of dollars of product and oodles of people-hours to achieve the same thing? I occasionally see a meme about crafting being cheaper than a therapist, and just as good for you. That’s just not true; if you buy enough supplies, it’s way dearer than therapy 😉
Also, Dimmie has hung our exhibition in Eltham for ArtsFest – thanks so much for all your hard work Dimmie. She sent me some quick installation photos before her phone ran out of battery.
In the last few weeks I’ve seen a few people trying acrylic pours. I have a spare canvas I’d tried something on and it hadn’t worked out, some old foam cups, and some PVA glue I don’t like. Tony has CRC in the garage. So, all the key ingredients at my fingertips.
Huge thanks to YouTube artists who have so generously shared their process. The basic process for a dirty pour is
- put a push pin in each corner on the back of the canvas so the paint drips don’t stick it to the work surface
- mix glue, water and paint in individual cups – ratios vary from artist to artist
- mix a double batch of white
- add a little silicone (such as CRC) to each OR as you mix into the final container
- pour layers of paint into your final pouring cup
- add silicone if you didn’t add to each colour
- once you add silicone run a paint brush handle or something through once or twice – do not stir
- cover the canvas with some of the runny white paint
- put the canvas on top of the cup, tip it over and give it a moment for the paint to run
- remove the cup and watch the paint spread
- tip the canvas to move the paint around
- heat with a heat source such as an embossing gun to remove bubbles & create ‘cells’
- leave to dry – it will take days…
Mine hasn’t dried yet, so it will be interesting so see how it looks.