Delving into an obsession

I’ve been interested in modern Aboriginal Art for the last 5 years or so, since being exposed to it as part of the theory side of my art study with TLC. Being in New Zealand, there’s little to be seen in the flesh,  and really only the internet for exploration. Any books available tend to be about older, more traditional forms.

And then along came this – a beautiful new glossy magazine dedicated to Aboriginal Art and Artists. It has lots of beautiful full-colour photographs, scholarly articles, gallery adverts and more. Completely stunning. The second issue has just come out, that’s the one shown here, and it’s every bit as good as the first.

 aaa mag cover copy

Did I mention that it’s around 180 glorious pages? And that I’m not on commission! Anyway, it has got me thinking about why I like modern Aboriginal Art and the short answer is – I’m not sure. The easy answer that springs to mind is joyful, colourful abstraction. But then I love some of the simpler, tonal works that have a Rothko feel. So it’s more than just colour, or abstraction or joy. I also love the aerial map feel of many of the works.

In the last few years I have worked on numerous series, obsessions really, such as the full moon, orange, shadows and pears. Only a tiny fraction of that study and obsession has ever been shown to anyone, even via my blog. And much of it is ongoing.

Now I think I might have to put all that aside for a while and delve into this obsession. Not that is is new, because it is not, but because suddenly I have this resource that I can study, pull apart, replicate, dissect and pore over. I suspect I’ll end up sewing, painting, drawing, collaging etc my way through the images until I begin to understand just what it is that draws me. I don’t want to produce Aboriginal Art – how can I when I am not an Aborigine? That would be mere copying. But if I can understand what draws me to it, I can transfer that joy to my own art practice.

Work in progress – rose

It’s not often I do anything that involves lots of layers of glazing, but I thought it was time to do something different, something a little slower. Have you read about slow food, slow cloth, slow whatever? It’s all about taking your time, savouring the process, using your process like meditation. That’s what this painting is like for me; a slow, meditative process where I put some glazed colour on, look and think, put some more on, look and think…

I decided to paint a close-up of a rose because it gives me quite distinct areas of tone and colour, and because the definite form means I hopefully won’t drift off into abstract land on this one. I found a free photo of a rose on the net and printed it out.  I covered the back in pastel, taped it to my canvas and then used a sharp pencil to transfer the main lines onto my canvas.

I have done quite a few layers so far and, at this stage, it looks very crude and altogether too ‘obvious’ for my liking. But as I go through the layers I will soften both the edges and the colors. Hopefully I’ll arrive at something I can enjoy. We’ll see!