Reflective Whisperings…

Monday finds me in a reflective mood… among a myriad of people I follow on social media, one is the artist Lucy Marks. Every Friday she posts a vlog/blog highlighting areas of interest, a topic for discussion…..and a couple of these posts have made me question myself…

One vlog was concerned with finding your own style and anyone who follows this blog effort of mine will know this is an area I struggle with. Influences abound in the art world; we have all seen artist’s work that we love, and one trap that we, as artists, mustn’t fall into is that of slavishly copying. Techniques, colour palettes, media… these can all be adapted, but it’s finding your own way of utilising them that makes your work unique, recognisable…

Bowed But Not Broken

As you can see from this small selection, finding my way is ongoing…perhaps I should think of it as ‘growing as an artist’….

….and, at the moment, I quite like where the ‘path’ is taking me…

The other vlog of Lucy’s that piqued my interest was about why we paint, what are we trying to say, what is the philosophy that underpins our work….

Now, no way do I profess to be a deeply philosophical thinker, (some of that stuff at uni, such as why is a table a table, went straight over my head…) but even I recognise that, as artists, we are all trying to say something, even if it is ‘this is what I can see in front of me’…

For my final show at uni I produced an installation that incorporated sound called ‘Connecting Threads’..

Connecting Threads…apart from the odd sketch which was more of a diagram for the aforementioned, I did no painting whatsoever….and although, I successfully justified/situated the above Threads, I find categorising my painting more difficult….or perhaps I am over-thinking things – why do I have to label my work at all?

Much easier for me is to say what interests me….

I have always loved being outdoors;  lately I have become fascinated with the literature and language we use to describe nature and the landscape…. and have found the books of Dominick Tyler (Uncommon Ground) and Robert MacFarlane a joy to read – for me, Landmarks transports me to the high mountains, the fenlands, the woods, even those in-between areas…I think I have said in a previous post about how his writings have made me stop and look at the details in the landscape, and having a language to describe it makes life so much easier…so, with all this reflecting taking place, and spring having sprung, I took myself off for a walk by the River Soar…

…the reeds stood like giant cotton wool buds….

…the warm weather had brought out the narrow boats and dog walkers, all shouting good morning – lovely how the sun brings out the best…

I sat and listened, church bells, a distant cockerel – a little late in the morning perhaps – the ‘flap flap’  silent soar of the pigeons, a lonely mallard squawking…the gentle flow of the river, ripples glinting in the sun…and as I walked along the desire path – so much better than ‘shortcut’.…I blew a kiss to the two magpies I disturbed – is that part of a song or an old wives’ tale – and watched a butterfly dance along… The path was springy underfoot, in fact, in some places it was definitely squelchy…

…but as I squidged and squelched I thought of a poem by Vicki Husband… called Desire Paths – I am never quite sure about copyright so I am not posting the whole poem, although an image of it is available on her twitter page @VicHusband – but the last lines are beautiful…

‘where every desire path reaches for its vanishing point

before heading off to shortcut a rumoured route between the stars’ ….

The poem even has its own desire path….

I am not sure that my work could every conjure up an image as poetic as that, but I keep trying…perhaps it’s the magic, ethereal, contradictory landscape that I am attempting to capture…

…and on the subject of language and words to describe features of the landscape..is there a word for the seemingly silver-tipped blades of grass, glinting in the sun…..?

 

Advertisements

Branching Out…blog update

If you have been following my blog you will be aware that in order to ‘regain my mojo’ I set myself some monthly goals – drawing exercises, visiting galleries, workshops…

Well so far, so good! Aiming to visit at least one exhibition a month, I have so far manged to visit ‘Uncommon Ground’ at the Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, the ‘Pop Art to Brit Art’ at the Lakeside, Nottingham, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and most recently, ‘Creating a Scene’ at The National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford – so I don’t feel I am doing too badly with this goal!

I only managed a whistlestop tour of ‘Creating a Scene’ – I was actually at ‘The Hub’ for a workshop but more on that later! This exhibition takes set design as its theme and is a collaboration of all the various disciplines involved in set production. Entering the space between the hanging ‘screens’ it certainly gave one the sense that you were about to set foot onto a stage just as the curtain is about to go up – the dimmed lighting, the expectant hush… the delicate tracery and images, the muted colours on the ‘screens’ really drew you in, just as the designers intended! It was fascinating to see the ideas come to life, from the original sketches, to more detailed designs, through to working models. Reminded me of the work involved in Connecting Threads – my original sketch, the maquette and the video animation – not that I am comparing myself to the artists (Richard Deacon, Derek Jarman, Bruce McClean to name drop a few..) involved in this exhibition, just some of the processes! Wish I had had longer to absorb more of the atmosphere…perhaps a return visit is in order – the exhibition is on until the 20th April.

Creating a SceneAs I mentioned earlier I was actually at The Hub to attend an Artists Development Workshop run by the East Midlands Visual Artist Network (EMVAN). Co-ordinator Elizabeth Hawley took us through a series of exercises and discussions intended to help us reflect upon; profile raising, working practices, networking and connectivity, knowledge sharing, resourcing a practice and markets and audiences. Whilst the exercises were useful in helping to pinpoint the areas I needed to focus on, what was really good was meeting up with other artists – networking in other words – something that I haven’t really been doing! It was great to learn that I am not alone in feeling lost… I came away from the workshop with renewed resolve to be more pro-active rather than re-active – even made a start, I bought a notebook to jot down all these websites I signed up to! I am even going to another workshop later this month – Unpicking Social Media at Loughborough – I might know what I am supposed to be doing with blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter…

The exercises from The Drawing Book certainly helped me overcome my ‘white paper syndrome’, and following a renewed interest in the’great outdoors’ and trees in particular, I have begun drawing my own forest! Here are some of my efforts…

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsFuture ideas involve working these drawings up into larger ones, paintings even – and what would be really great would be to produce some form of installation or intervention in an actual wood. Now there’s food for thought!